Elon Law student Bernard Brown co-authors article on patents for international nanotechnology conference
Third-year Elon Law student Bernard Brown recently co-authored an article on the impacts of patenting and the patent review process on the emerging field of nanotechnology, with Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice attorneys Greg Grissett and Jack Hicks.
Hicks, who also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Elon Law teaching intellectual property law, presented the article, “Nanoscience Patents Needs Assessment: Where Are We And Where Do We Go From Here?,” at the Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies Conference in Seattle, Washington, held September 8-11. The conference attracts researchers and academics from universities and industries across the world.
Brown worked as a summer associate with Womble Carlyle this year and holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from North Carolina State University as well as degrees in chemistry and zoology. Brown, who served as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Wake Forest University before coming to Elon Law, is also a registered patent agent.
Brown emphasized the importance of the authors’ combined backgrounds in science and the law in exploring legal issues surrounding nanotechnology in depth. “Our purpose in having three authors was the cross disciplinary nature of nanotech,” said Brown. “Mr. Hicks is a mechanical engineer with experience in the electronics industry, Mr. Grissett is a textile engineer and I am a biochemist. This roughly reflects the primary fields in nanotech – electronics, structural engineering, composites, and biotechnology/medicinal chemistry.”
The Triad region of North Carolina is emerging as a national hub for nanotechnology, as home of The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and at least 69 companies working with nanotechnology.
Brown said that addressing the legal context around the emerging field of nanotechnology would be pivotal to the future of the industry.
“Because nanotechnology is a multi-disciplinary field, and because researchers and developers raced to the patent office with every ‘apparently new’ development, the U.S. patent office has been overwhelmed,” Brown said. “This has led to a ‘patent thicket’ that could stifle innovation. In our article, we examine this idea and provide guidance to nanotech practitioners and lawyers drafting nanotech patents that will assist the patent office effectively, helping to process future nanotech patent applications more efficiently.”