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Nanotechnology and patents (PDF, 943 KB)


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Nanotechnology - entities with a controlled geometrical size of at least one functional component below 100 nanometres in one or more dimensions susceptible of making physical, chemical or biological effects - is considered by many to be one of the key technologies of this century, with an expected market volume of EUR 1 trillion in 2015.

Nanotechnology can occur in almost any area of science and engineering: it is just as relevant to biotechnologists and physicists as it is to electrical and mechanical engineers or materials scientists. The interdisciplinary nature of the field means that anyone interested in literature on nanotechnology, especially existing patent documents, struggles to retrieve it from the databases available.

To get to grips with this new technology, the EPO introduced the "Y01N" tags to label nanotechnology.

Y01N became B82Y

Recently all patent offices worldwide started to classify nanotechnology uniformly under the International Patent Classification (IPC) system. To make this possible, a new symbol, B82Y was introduced into the IPC on 1 January 2011, building on the Y01N system that the EPO had been using to tag nanotechnology-related patent applications.

The new B82Y symbol makes it easier to retrieve relevant patent documents in this important technical area as it is now part of both the IPC and the CPC (Cooperative Patent Classification) schemes. The EPO has moved all nanotechnology documents from the Y01N area in its databases to B82Y. The Y01N codes have been discontinued.

The concordance between Y01N and B82Y is as follows:

B82Y5 =Y01N2 Nanobiotechnology or nano-medicine
B82Y10 =Y01N4 Nanotechnology for information processing, storage and transmission
B82Y15 =Y01N8 Nanotechnology for interacting, sensing and actuating
B82Y20 =Y01N10 Nanotechnology for optics
B82Y25 =Y01N12 Nanomagnetism
B82Y30 =Y01N6 Nanotechnology for materials and surface science
B82Y35 (new) Methods or apparatus for measurement or analysis of nanostructures
B82Y40 (new) Manufacture or treatment of nanostructures

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