Audio Transcription of Interview on Classic FM on 3 July 2006; Nanotechnology

TONY BLEWITT:

Once again on Classic breakfast we talking intellectual property, with the guys from Spoor & Fisher and in the studio Lance Abramson a partner at Spoor & Fisher. And today, Lance, welcome again, by the way.

LANCE ABRAMSON:

Hi Tony

TONY BLEWITT:

We talking about patenting nanotechnology. That is an interesting thing. What is nanotechnology, by the way?

LANCE ABRAMSON:

Yes, good question, a lot of people have not heard of nanotechnology and really what we talking about there is the rearrangement of atoms to manufacture products and it has incredible potential, its been coming for some time but only recently has it found its way into mainstream. So, for example, you can make a computer with a massive memory but which is physically very small or a light weight material and medical instruments. Medical applications is going to be the big thing that nanotechnology changes. They talking about cures for cancer using nanotechnology and these kinds of things. So the world as we know it is really going to change with nanotechnology and the important thing from an intellectual property point of view is that the South African government has announced a massive spend on nanotechnology research so that South Africa does not miss out on this opportunity and what is very important is that these South African developments and the intellectual property that comes out of these developments are properly protected and stay South African property and the way to do this is to patent these nanotech inventions.

TONY BLEWITT:

Ok, do nanotech patents differ in any way from any other kind of patent?

LANCE ABRAMSON:

Essentially, they don´t differ, the same criteria that we discussed last week of being new and inventive apply. So the nanotechnology invention must be new and inventive. And then, of course, the patent application must be properly prepared and filed by an appropriate expert in the nanotechnology patent field.

TONY BLEWITT:

Ok, now where will the development be done in South Africa?

LANCE ABRAMSON:

Tony, because of the complexity of this research and of these kind of inventions its going to be done by academics in universities and by companies involved in this kind of research and the most important message to give them is not to disclose their inventions before they file patent applications. And we all know academics love to publish papers after they make discoveries and if they publish their paper before they file their patent application they will actually invalidate their own patent application. So, this is very important.

TONY BLEWITT:

Now, how are we doing up to date on the patenting of nanotech inventions here in South Africa?

LANCE ABRAMSON:

Tony, unfortunately the initial indicators are not good. If you hop onto the US Patent Office website today you would find something like two thousand six hundred granted patents with the word nanotechnology in them and about another five hundred six hundred published pending applications. In Europe, if you look at whats going on there they have got already nanotechnology working groups at the European Patent Office which are set up to examine these kind of inventions and these kind of patents. In contrast, in South Africa if you do a search of the South African Patent Office you will find that there's just a trickle of patent applications in this field of nanotechnology and this must mean one or two things, either the research is not yet being done in South Africa or whats worse, from my point of view, is that the research is being done but the intellectual fruits of that research are not being properly protected and the message that must go out to people involved in nanotechnology research and development is don´t forget to protect your inventions, don´t forget to patent your inventions.

TONY BLEWITT:

Ok, cool, thank you Lance from Spoor & Fisher, partner there. Thanks very much. Nanotechnology, suddenly we live in a world where small is big. See you next week.

Lance Abramson

Spoor & Fisher

Date published: 2006/07/03
Author: Lance Abramson

Tags: audio transcription classic fm nanotechnology