Is self-healing paint nanotech-enabled?; intellectual property in science fiction and in science; global nanotech regulation database

Ariel Schwartz has a news item on Fast Company about Japanese cell phones and self-healing paint. It seems to me that this is likely nanotech-enabled technology and an example of how we are more and more able to exploit the properties of matter at the nano scale. But, I couldn’t find any information to confirm my suspicion. More about the paint from the news item,

Nissan recently licensed its Scratch Shield paint, which is scratch resistant and even repairs fine scratches, to Japanese cell phone company NTT DoCoMo. The paint has been used on select Nissan and Infiniti cars worldwide since 1995, but this is the first time it will be used outside of the vehicle market. Unlike the vehicle paint, cell-phone scratch-proof paint will only be available in Japan for now. But considering the wear and tear that most cell phones see, demand for the product will almost certainly expand to a worldwide market.

I did check out the Nissan website which offers a few more pictures than the news item does but not much more information.

I occasionally mention intellectual property (IP) as the current turmoil over copyrights, patents, and trademarks have an impact on writing. It’s with some dismay that I found an item on Techdirt about a science fiction movie that’s being sued for patent infringement. Yes, a fictional device has been patented. Given that lots of items that we take for granted, cell phones/mobiles for example, are based on devices found in fiction first, this lawsuit does not bode well. Coincidentally (on the same day), I saw another item onTechdirt, Yet Another Nobel Prize Winner Says That Intellectual Property Law Is Harming Science. From the item,

For science to continue to flourish, it is necessary that the knowledge it generates be made freely and widely available. IP rights have the tendency to stifle access to knowledge and the free exchange of ideas that is essential to science. So, far from stimulating innovation and the dissemination of the benefits of science, IP all too often hampers scientific progress and restricts access to its products.

If this issue interests you, the item on Techdirt offers more links. Btw, the scientist speaking out is Sir John Sulston (a prize-winning biologist).

Thoughts of intellectual property led me to thoughts about lawyers, which is why the news item on Nanowerk about a global nanotechnology regulation database caught my eye.  From the news item,

A global database of government documents on nanotechnology is being launched by three law professors at Arizona State University who, with their colleagues in Australia and Belgium, have corralled and organized a massive number of regulatory documents dealing with the rapidly advancing technology. The Nanotech Regulatory Document Archive is a free resource built and maintained by the Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Over the past year, Gary Marchant, the center’s executive director, and center Faculty Fellows Douglas Sylvester and Kenneth Abbott, developed the database as part of a multiyear grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Genomic Science Program.

I am intrigued to see that the project is being funded though a sort of genome programme being run by the US Dept. of Energy. I find this to be an unusual conflation but I suspect that’s largely due to my ignorance. I’ve certainly noticed the talk about bio-nano so a genome project being run by an energy department is not entirely out of the question but it hints at the idea that the gap between living and nonliving is being bridged. More about that when I’ve had time to think about it.

Idle thought: I wonder how long this free tool will remain free.

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