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Patent Applications for Algae Technologies Increases

February 4th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-Fuel-Research

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Algae may have finally arrived if the rising number of patent applications for algae technologies is any indication. The growth in algae has been spurred by its potential to provide an abundant and sustainable feedstock for fuels, biomaterials, feed and other products. Major investments in algae technologies have been made by the U.S. government, research universities and venture capital firms, driving algae from a backwater topic a few years ago to a major player today.
In 1988, there were only four international patent applications published having the word “algae” in their abstract, as compared to 37 in 1998 and more than 90 during 2008. Similarly, only three U.S. patents were issued in 1988 containing the words “algae” and “bioreactor” somewhere in their text, as compared to 22 in 1998 and 51 in 2008. This can mean longer processing times and higher costs because all these new filings in a field that was previously uneventful add to the inevitable backlog that exists in the course of getting patent applications to the point of actually being examined and issued. For instance, a new “art unit” dealing with chemical separation and purification (including algae bioreactors) was recently formed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in order to coalesce what had been several different examination groups. Though this reorganization might make sense in the long run, the immediate result will likely further delay the examination of new applications concerned with algae and similar technologies.

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