Intellectual Property and Emerging Technologies

Intellectual Property and Emerging Technologies

The New Biology

Queen Mary Studies in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Matthew Rimmer and Alison McLennan

This unique and comprehensive collection investigates the challenges posed to intellectual property by recent paradigm shifts in biology. It explores the legal ramifications of emerging technologies, such as genomics, synthetic biology, stem cell research, nanotechnology, and biodiscovery.

Chapter 10: Cosmo, Cosmolino: Patent Law and Nanotechnology

Alison McLennan and Matthew Rimmer

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, biotechnology, environmental economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict, law - academic, intellectual property law


Alison McLennan and Matthew Rimmer ‘She would sing to it sweetly, Cosmo, Cosmolino, world, little world’ Helen Garner, Cosmo, Cosmolino1 Gary Marchant and his colleagues observe that nanotechnology is an exemplar of an emerging technology: Nanotechnology is the latest in a growing list of emerging technologies that includes nuclear technologies, genetics, reproductive biology, biotechnology, information technology, robotics, communication technologies, surveillance technologies, synthetic biology, and neuroscience. As was the case for many of the technologies that came before, a key question facing nanotechnology is what type of regulatory oversight is appropriate for this emerging technology.2 Ian Kerr and Goldie Bassie pithily put the question, ‘How ought today’s policy-makers to address such concerns about a technology “so new that, in truth, it barely exists”?’3 Nanotechnology is the field of science and technology that is focused around the hundred nanometer scale downwards.4 It refers to devices 1 2 3 4 Garner, Helen (1992), Cosmo, Cosmolino, Melbourne: McPhee Gribble and Penguin Books, 144. Marchant, G., D. Sylvester and K. Abbott (2009), ‘What Does the History of Technology Regulation Teach Us About Nano Oversight?’ Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 37, 724–31 at 724. Kerr, I. and G. Bassie (2004), ‘Not That Much Room? Nanotechnology, Networks and the Politics of Dancing’, Health Law Journal, 12, 103–23. For a discussion of the historical development of nanotechnology, see Drexler, K. Eric (1986), Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, Garden City: Anchor Press/DoubleDay; Peterson, C. (2004), ‘Nanotechnology: From Feynman to the Grand...

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