Tag Archives: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Canadian nanotechnology commercialization efforts: patents and a new facility

Nanotech Security, a Vancouver-area business focused on anti-counterfeiting strategies which has been featured here a number of times, has secured two patents according to a May 30, 2015 news item on Nanotechnology Now,

Nanotech Security Corp. (TSXV: NTS) (OTCQX: NTSFF), announced that the Company has been granted two patents; one from the United States Patent and Trademark Office and one from the European Patent Office. The Company continues to expand the protection of its technology with the addition of these patents to its intellectual property portfolio.

Clint Landrock, Nanotech Chief Technology officer, commented, “We are pleased to be granted these additional patents as they further solidify our hold on the next generation of authentication technologies for the banknote, branding and secure document industries.”

Notech Security’s May 27, 2015 news release, which originated the news item, provides more details about the technology being patented,

Based on these patents the Company has launched “Pearl”, our first foray in plasmonic full colour images.  A nano array image of Vermeer’s famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, which brilliantly displays her ruby lips, blue scarf and bright white collar and features two distinct authentication viewing modes in one feature.  The user can view the full colour image in both transmission and reflection (shining a light on or through the image) – an effect impossible for a hologram to achieve.  …

Here’s Pearl,

NanotechSecurityPeral

Courtesy Nanotech Security

The news release goes on,

Doug Blakeway, Nanotech Chief Executive Officer, commented, “An initial showing of Pearl to the banknote industry came back with comments of having never seen such a bright visual effect in a security device.”  Immediate interest in Pearl has initiated discussions with issuing authorities.

EPO No. 2,563,602 names Charles MacPherson as the inventor.  The patent covers layered optically variable devices (“OVDs”) such as colour shift foils that uniquely employs additional interactivity using piezoelectric layers to activate the authentication mode of a security device used as threads in products such as banknotes, passports and secure packaging.  This patented multi-layered thin film technology offers Nanotech a competitive edge in the development of colour shifting security devices.

USPTO No. 9,013,272 names Dr. Bozena Kaminska and Clint Landrock as co-inventors.  Building on patents previously granted to Nanotech, this patent secures integral intellectual property, which covers a range of diffractive and plasmonic luminescent devices such as security features used in banknotes.

Nano facility in Alberta

Presumably this Canadian federal government announcement about funding for a nanotechnology facility at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is in anticipation of a Fall 2015 election (from a May 31, 2015 news item on Nanotechnology Now,

Today [Friday, May 29, 2015], the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced $1.5 million in funding to support the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in establishing a centre that will allow small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to test, develop, and commercialize micro- and nano-coated products.

A May 29, 2015 Western Economic Diversification Canada news release on MarketWired expands on the theme,

Federal funding will enable NAIT to purchase specialized coating handling and blasting equipment, a spray booth, cutting machines, compressors, and to upgrade the facility’s ventilation system and power supply.

The facility, which is also receiving support from MesoCoat Technology Canada, will operate within the existing Nanotechnology Centre for Applied Research, Industry Training and Services (nanoCARTS), and is expected to benefit a wide range of sectors including oil and gas, surface technology and engineering.

Quick Facts

  • Since 2006, the federal government has invested more than $13 billion in new funding in all facets of the innovation ecosystem including advanced research, research infrastructure, talent development, and business innovation.
  • NAIT’s nanoCARTS provides industry with prototyping, product enhancement, testing and characterization services related to nano and micro technology. The new facility will help to expand nanoCARTS’ range of services available to SMEs.
  • NAIT has the expertise in rapid prototyping, materials testing, manufacturing, training and mechanical design to help companies develop and commercialize new products.

Quotes

“Our Government understands that technology advancements help increase Western Canada’s competitive advantage. By investing in the establishment of this new micro- and nano-coated product development centre, we are demonstrating our commitment to supporting jobs and economic growth.”

  • The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

“Applied research is essential in NAIT’s role as a leading polytechnic. This investment strengthens our ability to work with industry to solve their real-world problems. This ultimately helps them to be competitive and innovative. I would like to thank the Government of Canada for its investment.”

  • Dr. Glenn Feltham, President and CEO, NAIT

“We are grateful to the Government of Canada for their financial and strategic support, which has been instrumental in establishing this centre at NAIT. The applied research we are carrying out has the potential to extend the lifespan of piping used in oil production and save billions of dollars in downtime and replacement costs. Wear-resistant clad pipes being developed at this centre are expected to make oil production safer, more efficient and more affordable.”

  • Stephen Goss, CEO, MesoCoat Technology Canada

That would seem to be the sum total of the Canadian commercialization effort at the moment. It contrasts somewhat with the US White House and its recently announced new initiatives to commercialize nanotechnology (see my May 27, 2015 post for a list).

The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012 report—examined (part 1: the executive summary)

In my Sept. 27, 2012 posting about its launch,  we celebrated the Council of Canadian Academies, The State of science and Technology in Canada, 2012 report unconditionally. Today (Dec. , 2012), it’s time for a closer look.

I’m going to start with the report’s executive summary and some of the background information. Here’s the question the 18-member expert panel attempted to answer,

What is the current state of science and technology in Canada?

Additional direction was provided through two sub-questions:

Considering both basic and applied research fields, what are the scientific disciplines and technological applications in which Canada excels? How are these strengths distributed geographically across the country? How do these trends compare with what has been taking place in comparable countries?

In which scientific disciplines and technological applications has Canada shown the greatest improvement/decline in the last five years? What major trends have emerged? Which scientific disciplines and technological applications have the potential to emerge as areas of prominent strength for Canada?  (p. xi paper, p. 13 PDF)

Here’s more general information about the expert panel,

The Council appointed a multidisciplinary expert panel (the Panel) to address these questions. The Panel’s mandate spanned the full spectrum of fields in engineering, the natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences, the arts, and humanities. It focused primarily on research performed in the higher education sector, as well as the government and not-for-profit sectors. The mandate specifically excluded an examination of S&T performed in the private sector (which is the subject of a separate Council assessment on the state of industrial research and development). The Panel’s report builds upon, updates, and expands the Council’s 2006 report, The State of Science and Technology in Canada. (p. xi paper, p. 13 PDF)

As I noted in my Sept. 27, 2012 posting, the experts have stated,

  • The six research fields in which Canada excels are: clinical medicine, historical studies, information and communication technologies (ICT), physics and astronomy, psychology and cognitive sciences, and visual and performing arts.
  • Canadian science and technology is healthy and growing in both output and impact. With less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s population, Canada produces 4.1 per cent of the world’s research papers and nearly 5 per cent of the world’s most frequently cited papers.
  • In a survey of over 5,000 leading international scientists, Canada’s scientific research enterprise was ranked fourth highest in the world, after the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany.
  • Canada is part of a network of international science and technology collaboration that includes the most scientifically advanced countries in the world. Canada is also attracting high-quality researchers from abroad, such that over the past decade there has been a net migration of researchers into the country.
  • Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta are the powerhouses of Canadian science and technology, together accounting for 97 per cent of total Canadian output in terms of research papers. These provinces also have the best performance in patent-related measures and the highest per capita numbers of doctoral students, accounting for more than 90 per cent of doctoral graduates in Canada in 2009.
  • Several fields of specialization were identified in other provinces, such as: agriculture, fisheries, and forestry in Prince Edward Island and Manitoba; historical studies in New Brunswick; biology in Saskatchewan; as well as earth and environmental sciences in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

The Council did release a backgrounder describing the methodology the experts used to arrive at their conclusions,

In total, the Panel used a number of different methodologies to conduct this assessment, including: bibliometrics (the study of patterns in peer-reviewed journal articles); technometrics (the analysis of patent statistics and indicators), an analysis of highly qualified and skilled personnel; and opinion surveys of Canadian and international experts.

• To draw comparisons among the results derived through the different methodologies, and to integrate the findings, a common classification system was required. The Panel selected a classification system that includes 22 research fields composed of 176 sub-fields, which included fields in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Recognizing that some measurement tools used by the Panel (e.g. bibliometric measures) are a less relevant way of measuring science and technology strength in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, where research advances may be less often communicated in peer-reviewed journal articles, the Panel made considerable attempts to evaluate measures such as books and book chapters, exhibitions, and esteem measures such as international awards. However, the Panel was hampered by a lack of available data. As a result, the information and data collected did not meet the Council’s high standards and was excluded from the assessment.

• The Panel determined two measures of quality, a field’s international average relative citations (ARC) rank and its rank in the international survey, to be the most relevant in determining the field’s position compared with other advanced countries. Based on these measures of quality, the

Bibliometric Analysis (the study of patterns in peer-reviewed journal articles)

• Bibliometric analysis has several advantages, namely, that it is built on a well-developed foundation of quantitative data and it is able to provide information on research productivity and impact.

• For this assessment, the Panel relied heavily on bibliometrics to inform their deliberations. The Panel commissioned a comprehensive analysis of Canadian and world publication trends. It included consideration of many different indicators of output and impact, a study of collaboration patterns, and an analysis of researcher migration. Overall, the resulting research was extensive and critical for determining the research fields in which Canada excels.

• Standard bibliometrics do not identify patterns of collaboration among researchers, and may not adequately capture research activity within an interdisciplinary realm. Therefore, the Panel used advanced bibliometric techniques that allow for the identification of patterns of collaboration between Canadian researchers and those in other countries (based on the co-authorship of research papers); and clusters of related research papers, as an alternative approach to assessing Canada’s research strengths.

Technometrics (analysis of patent statistics and indicators)

• Technometrics is an important tool for determining trends in applied research. This type of analysis is routinely used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other international organizations in comparing and assessing science and technology outputs across countries.

• In 2006, the Expert Panel on Science and Technology used technometrics to inform their work. In an effort to ensure consistency between the 2006 and the 2012 assessments, technometrics were once again used as a measurement tool.

• The 2012 Panel commissioned a full analysis of Canadian and international patent holdings in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to capture information about Canada’s patent stock and production of intellectual property relative to other advanced economies. Canadians accounted for 18,000 patented inventions in the USPTO, compared to 12,000 at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office during the period 2005-2010.

Opinion Surveys

• To capture a full range of Canadian science and technology activities and strengths, two extensive surveys were commissioned to gather opinions from Canadian experts and from the top one per cent of cited researchers from around the world.

• A survey of Canadian science and technology experts was conducted for the 2006 report. In

2012 this exercise was repeated, however, the survey was modified with three key changes:

o respondents were pre-chosen to ensure those responding were experts in Canadian science and technology;

o to allow comparisons of bibliometric data, the survey was based on the taxonomy of 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields; and

o a question regarding the identification of areas of provincial science and technology strength was added.

• To obtain the opinions of international science and technology experts regarding Canada’s science and technology strengths, the Panel conducted a survey of the top cited one percent of international researchers. Over 5,000 responded to the survey, including Canadians. This survey, combined with the results from the bibliometric analysis were used to determine the top six fields of research in which Canada excels.

..

Research Capacity

• The Panel conducted an analysis related to Canadian research capacity. This analysis drew evidence from a variety of sources including bibliometric data and existing information from publications by organizations such as the OECD and Statistics Canada.

• The Panel was also able to look at various Canadian research capacities which included research infrastructure and facilities, trends in Canada’s research faculty and student populations, the degree of collaboration among researchers in Canada and other countries, and researcher migration between Canada and other countries.

To sum it up, they used bibliometrics (how many citations, publications in peer-reviewed journals, etc.), technometrics (the number of patents filed, etc.), and opinion surveys, along with data from other publications. it sounds very impressive but I am wondering why Canada is so often unmentioned as a top research country in analyses produced outside of Canada. In the 2011 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Science, Technology, and Industry scorecard, we didn’t place all that well according to my Sept. 27, 2011 posting,

Other topics were covered as well, the page hosting the OECD scorecard information boasts a couple of animations, one of particular interest to me (sadly I cannot embed it here). The item of interest is the animation featuring 30 years of R&D investments in OECD and non-OECD countries. It’s a very lively 16 seconds and you may need to view it a few times. You’ll see some countries rocket out of nowhere to make their appearance on the chart (Finland and Korea come to mind) and you’ll see some countries progress steadily while others fall back. The Canadian trajectory shows slow and steady growth until approximately 2000 when we fall back for a year or two after which we remain stagnant. [emphasis added here]

Notably, the 2012 State of Canadian Science and Technology does not mention investment in this sector as they do in the OECD scorecard and  even though that’s usually one of the measures for assessing the health of your science and technology sector.

For reasons that are somewhat of a mystery to me, the report indicates dissatisfaction with Canada’s patent performance (we don’t patent often enough),

In contrast to the nation’s strong performance in knowledge generation is its weaker performance in patents and related measures. Despite producing 4.1 per cent of the world’s scientific papers, Canada holds only 1.7 per cent of world patents, and in 2010 had a negative balance of nearly five billion dollars in royalties and licensing revenues. Despite its low quantity of patents, Canada excels in international comparisons of quality, with citations to patents (ARC scores), ranking second in the world, behind the United States. (p. xiii print, p. 15 PDF)

I have written extensively about the problems with the patent system, especially the system in the US, as per Billions lost to patent trolls; US White House asks for comments on intellectual property (IP) enforcement; and more on IP, in my June 28, 2012 posting and many others. As an indicator or metric for excellence in science and technology, counting your patents (or technometrics as defined by the Council of Canadian Academies) seems problematic. I appreciate this is a standard technique practiced by other countries but couldn’t the panel have expressed some reservations about the practice? Yes, they mention problems with the methodology but they seem unaware that there is growing worldwide dissatisfaction with patent practices.

Thankfully this report is not just a love letter to ourselves. There was an acknowledgement that some areas of excellence have declined since the 2006 report. For those following the Canadian science and technology scene, it can’t be a surprise to see that natural resources and environmental science and technology (S&T) are among the declining areas (not so coincidentally there is less financial investment by the federal government),

This assessment is, in part, an update of the Council’s 2006 assessment of the state of S&T in Canada. Results of the two assessments are not entirely comparable due to methodological differences such as the bibliometric database and classification system used in the two studies, and the survey of top-cited international researchers which was not undertaken in the 2006 assessment. Nevertheless, the Panel concluded that real improvements have occurred in the magnitude and quality of Canadian S&T in several fields including Biology, Clinical Medicine, ICT, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, Public Health and Health Services, and Visual and Performing Arts. Two of the four areas identified as strengths in the 2006 report — ICT and health and related life sciences and technologies — have improved by most measures since 2006.

The other two areas identified as strengths in the 2006 report — natural resources and environmental S&T — have not experienced the same improvement as Canadian S&T in general. In the current classification system, these broad areas are now represented mainly by the fields of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry; and Earth and Environmental Sciences. The Panel mapped the current classification system for these fields to the 2006 system and is confident that the overall decline in these fields is real, and not an artefact of different classifications. Scientific output and impact in these fields were either static or declined in 2005–2010 compared to 1994–2004. It should be noted, however, that even though these fields are declining relative to S&T in general, both maintain considerable strength, with Canadian research in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry ranked second in the world in the survey of international researchers, and Earth and Environmental Sciences ranked fourth.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to part 2 of this as I have much on my plate at the moment but I will get back to this.