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Why Geim Never Patented Graphene

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the makes-perfect-sense dept.

Patents 325

gbrumfiel writes "As we discussed on Tuesday, Andre Geim won this year's Nobel prize in physics for graphene, but he never patented it. In an interview with Nature News, he explains why: 'We considered patenting; we prepared a patent and it was nearly filed. Then I had an interaction with a big, multinational electronics company. I approached a guy at a conference and said, "We've got this patent coming up, would you be interested in sponsoring it over the years?" It's quite expensive to keep a patent alive for 20 years. The guy told me, "We are looking at graphene, and it might have a future in the long term. If after ten years we find it's really as good as it promises, we will put a hundred patent lawyers on it to write a hundred patents a day, and you will spend the rest of your life, and the gross domestic product of your little island, suing us." That's a direct quote.'"

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325 comments

But if he doesn't patent it... (3, Funny)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836662)

Can't they just patent it anyway, and sue him instead?

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836748)

If a Nobel prize doesn't count as prior art, the system is even more broken that it seems

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (5, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836976)

Well, they don't have to patent graphene itself -- they can just patent every possible application of it that they can think of.

That's really the way things seem to work -- if you patent something really awesome, somebody with a lot more lawyers will surround your invention with patents so it can't be used, even by you, without infringing on one of their patents. In general, these patents tend to be "obvious to the layperson" and therefore should be thrown out, but that requires lots of money, and it's easier to just pay their extortion money.

The system is screwed up. It would be even more screwed up if you needed a Nobel prize to protect yourself against it, but at least in this case it's not needed -- and doesn't even help.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837036)

They'll also patent every way of making it. Then they'll patent every change/improvement
to the process for the next 50 years.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837050)

That's how patents work in biotech. First you find a gene, then you immediately patent it - don't worry about figureing out what it does, because if you delay to do that a competitor might file first. Then you figure out what it does, and then you patent every possible application just to be safe. Commercial biotech research is basically driven by patents, but it can get extremally aggressive.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837252)

Never understood the 'not obvious to the layperson' requirement, seems to me like it should be 'not obvious to someone in the given field'. In other words, if you presented 5 engineers with a problem and they all came up with the same or similar solutions, that solution should not be patentable, there is no leap that is worth rewarding with a monopoly. But I guess just getting the layperson requirement to actually be honored would be a good step in the right direction.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (4, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837410)

In the US, the standard is "not obvious to one having ordinary skill in the art". In other words, someone with more skill than Joe Sixpack, but less skill than an expert in the field.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837436)

the bar for patent-ability IS 'not obvious to an expert in the field'. not sure where this obvious to the layperson thing came from.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837004)

Oh yes, a very simple method to make graphene is covered by the prior art. But what if they come up with some tiny improvement to the process (or more likely a massive improvement if they're going to commercialize it I don't think using scotch tape and pencil lead is going to cut it). And then you can file a patent for each possible use that you can come up with, and another for every tiny incremental improvement you make to those uses, and even uses that you come up with that you know won't work but might end up being close enough to something that does work that you can sue someone later. Broken... broken... broken, I just can't express how broken the patent system is.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837226)

Making an improvement gives you the right to the improvement only. The rest of the process is still covered by the original patent.

So you might file a whole raft of improvements but it won't get you any economic benefit.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837490)

I'm just saying that an army of patent lawyers will box in any important invention so much that any layman's patent is going to be 100% worthless because they won't be able to do anything with it without stepping all over a dozen other patents. Lets say that you're one of the inventors and want to start a business to actually sell a product that uses graphene. Oh, you want to mass produce graphene now? Well, there's 13 patents on ways to mass produce it so you'll need to license one of them even though it is really just an automation of the process that one you a Nobel prize. You want to use graphene in a touchscreen display? Sorry, that violate the patent on "monolayer semiconductor based resistive devices". etc, etc, etc.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837166)

But but.. capitalism must trump any prize, right? After all, the patent lawyers are byproduct of the capitalism as we practice in the US (and around the world too).

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837286)

You don't understand how this works. You write patents like "Use of graphene as a conducting element in an electronic device," or "Method of fabricating graphene on silicon substrates employing one of several obvious design choices that nonetheless sound like witchcraft to anyone without a PhD in Materials Science."

It doesn't matter if the patents won't stand up. If there's enough of them, it won't be worth the cost for any private party to knock them all down. The only way to stop this is to get tough on fraudulent claims. If an "inventor" shows a pattern of putting his name on patent applications that a professional working in the field would consider trivial, then he should go to prison for perjury.

The problem with the current system for policing fraud is that it relies on competitors. But the whole strategy is to pile the BS so deep it's not worth the competitors' bother. Furthermore, the competitors aren't going to rock the boat because they're doing the same damned thing.

Patent abuse is a win-some, lose-some proposition for the corporations engaged in it. It's the public and the real inventors who consistently lose.

Can you stop (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836766)

splitting your post between the header and the body?

I'm about to shit down your throat if you don't stop.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836774)

They could.
You can sue anyone for anything
You may not win.
This would be a dbag move, but he already has published prior work on it, so they'd not have a case.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836798)

Pretty sure nobody could get away with patenting something someone already published and won the Nobel Prize for.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836906)

You're new here, aren't you?

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836956)

"Method of making something similar to Graphene but isn't"
"Method of using a Graphine-like material to wipe your ass"
add "on a smartphone", "on the internet" etc. to each of them.

They can generate a mountain of patent applications and a good chunk would be granted. They'd never stand up in court, but they don't care. Like the guy said, they'd kill the competition with legal fees.

Yes, it's an abuse of the legal system. Good luck getting THAT to stick.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837162)

I find your "Graphene on the Internet" idea intriguing and would like to know how I can invest.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (3, Informative)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836984)

They seemed to think they would ruin him if he had a publication and a patent. Why would a Nobel Prize be a good example of prior art, but an actual patent would be a joke? Even with a patent and a Nobel prize and a dozen publications, there is nothing you can due when sued for violating 1,000 different patents and faced with a team of 200 lawyers filing a dozen lawsuits every day until you fold. That's the point. They don't care if they lose a lot in court. The point was they will never license his discovery, they will take and if he tries to fight, they will dedicate their entire existence to ruining his life. AKA they will act like any corporation ever. Steal and then sue your victim for 10 trillion dollars.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (5, Informative)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837002)

RTFA. In the next paragraph Geim talks about what the guy from the electronics company meant. Patents only work if they are for specific devices or processes. Since graphene hasn't been use in any practical real-world solutions yet, there's really nothing to patent at this stage. The company that develop devices and uses for Graphene will end up filing more specific and enforceable patents.

He wasn't necessarily knocking the system.

Re:But if he doesn't patent it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837456)

And yet, $50 says that if the large corporation had discovered it first, you can be damn sure they'd have filed that very same patent. They just talked him out of it to make things easier for them to use *coughstealcough* the tech.

Name and Shame. (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836772)

He could at least have mentioned which "big, multinational electronics company" he spoke with.

One word: libel (3, Funny)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836814)

Do that, and he'll spend the rest of his life and gross income fighting interminable libel suits.

Re:One word: libel (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837114)

yeah, I've heard that in the UK the truth is less important than the appearance in libel suits, so even if you had a video recording of the CEO saying something like that, they could still sue and win if you published that statement. Don't know how true that is, but the UK laws have some really stupid stuff in them. (All countries laws have some stupid stuff, but the longer the country has been around, the more moronic stuff is there.)

Re:Name and Shame. (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836842)

That wouldn't be smart. If he did that, he'd probably get taken to court for slander, and if he didn't have evidence that the individual said that, he could very easily lose. Given the content of the quote, I rather suspect that the individual wouldn't have the scruples to look the other way if it is an accurate quote.

Re:Name and Shame. (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837432)

Yeah..... that is one of the many reasons the US put "freedom of speech" in a Constitutional amendment and wrote very loose slander/libel laws.

My money is on... (0, Troll)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836918)

...Sony. Sounds like the kind of scummy win-at-all-costs, screw-everyone-over attitude the company has had the past couple of decades.

Re:My money is on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836952)

Sony weren't controlled by the media division back then, they were a products company fuckwit. It's obviously IBM.

Re:My money is on... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837238)

My money is on someone like DuPont, Siemens, Phillips, 3M, BASF or a "carbon company" like Ashbury.

Re:My money is on... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837116)

But Sony only goes after technology that nobody else wants to use. If the whole industry is interested, they wouldn't be. Just look at Minidisc, ATRAC, Memory Stick, Betamax, Blura...nevermind.

Re:Name and Shame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837020)

He is a Dutch citizen... if I would need to guess, I would guess Phillips.

Re:Name and Shame. (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837030)

You cannot guess which one? It is fairly easy to guess. There are about two of them which fit the bill and I am pretty sure which one was he talking to. It is not the one which once upon a time did a blue roses advert. That one would have given a considerably more subtle answer.

Better idea: (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837242)

Just out of spite go to the corp's direct competitor(s), and let them know exactly who said what. Then offer to help said competitor(s) get a jump on things.

Hell - I'd do it just out of spite; the original corp gets bitch-slapped, competitor(s) get a Nobel Prize-winning scientist's name in their press releases, and while you still have to stupid patent issues, at least the evil is more diffuse (among competitors), and therefore less of a threat at large.

That's not a direct quote. (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836776)

That's a threat to abuse the legal system.

Re:That's not a direct quote. (1)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837082)

It seems to me that the whole patent trolling industry is an abuse of the legal system ... at least in terms of what most reasonable people would think the legal system is for.

Re:That's not a direct quote. (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837180)

reasonable people aren't allowed in the legal system, the whole fucking thing would collapse

What island are they referring to? (3, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836832)

I don't get it, he is Russian born and works in Manchester, England. Are they saying $2.2 trillion (nominal GDP of England in 2006) isn't enough to win a patent war? My god, if that's the case, then what is?

Re:What island are they referring to? (0, Flamebait)

James Durie (1426) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836948)

Wow I never knew that England was an island.
If the GDP of England was $2.2 trillion what was the GDP of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Or are you one of those people who doesn't understand the difference between England and the UK?

Re:What island are they referring to? (2, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837176)

Maybe the GP has discovered an underground channel linking the east and west coasts far beneath Hadrian's Wall, with a tributary running down to the Severn.

Re:What island are they referring to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837184)

what was the GDP of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Judging by the dole rolls, negative?

Re:What island are they referring to? (4, Insightful)

jorenko (238937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837230)

While we're being pedants here, the UK isn't an island either.

Or are you one of those people who doesn't understand the difference between the UK and Great Britain?

Oh come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837276)

Do you also complain when someone says "American" when they mean something from USA? The rest of the world knows the difference, people just don't care enough to make the distinction when it is the norm to speak of something with the "incorrect" term.

Re:What island are they referring to? (0, Flamebait)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837494)

Shakespeare says it is.
"Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise;
This fortress, built by nature for herself,
Against infection, and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world;
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,"

And Winston Churchill
"What tragedies, what horrors, what crimes has Hitler and all that Hitler stands for brought upon Europe and the world! The ruins of Warsaw, of Rotterdam, of Belgrade are monuments which will long recall to future generations the outrage of unopposed air bombing applied with calculated scientific cruelty to helpless populations. Here in London and throughout the cities of our island and in Ireland there may also be seen marks of devastation. They are being repaid and presently they will be more than repaid. "
Churchill also called England "this island fortress".

While not true, England has been called an Island nation by many people and at many times in many pretty famous works of literature. And as I have show by pretty famous Englishman.

You see that is the problem. People in the EU think they are the center of the world and don't even know their own history or literature. Unlike here in the US where we get a more balanced world based historical education.
Yea I just said that to tick off the EU folks that like say that we don't know any history.

Re:What island are they referring to? (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836980)

Trick question. It's impossible to win a patent war... unless you're a patent lawyer, of course, in which case you always win.

Re:What island are they referring to? (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837384)

It's really simple, and Geim seems to have totally misunderstood the guy's comment.

By patenting it, and the company creating patents surrounding it, Geim stands to gain in licensing incredible amounts of profit. He would be able to "buy his own island".

Geim calls this comment arrogant, but by not patenting it he has simply made it possible for the multinational electronics company to use his invention at no cost. They reap all the benefit while his work to discover/invent goes unrewarded - even the Nobel prize award would be dwarfed by the licensing fees he could make if the invention is truly useful. Geim's altruism benefits only the "arrogant" companies he seems to disdain.

One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836856)

to abandon patents altogether. They simply don't do what they're supposed to do (protect inventions and especially the small inventor) but are wonderful weapons for the large corporation and patent troll to assault everyone else with. Especially those that push the envelope. Which is why we'll only see more of this in the future.

Patents help the little guy (5, Insightful)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836868)

This is as fine example as any about how patents help the small business and/or lone inventor.

Re:Patents help the little guy (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837038)

Clearly this is an example where patents helped him develop a revolutionary new substance worthy of a Nobel prize. Patents are 'absolutely necessary' for innovation after all, and this is some greyt innovation so patents *must* have helped.

Re:Patents help the little guy (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837360)

No, it's exactly the opposite. How on earth will this guy will benefit from large companies writing a hundred patents surrounding his discovery? Patents will always be detrimental to the little guy, and innovation in general. You can't improve anything that's patented, even if your application is 100% better.

Re:Patents help the little guy (3, Interesting)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837382)

They do help a little. I have a number of friends involved in startups and the patents they own are valuable, but they are not everything. As with all things in life if the big guy wants something they'll find a way to get it.

IME if you have done a startup (e.g. electronics company) then you have three things of value:
1) Your customer: lets say you have interest (but not sales) from a large company A and another large company B wants to sell to A. By buying you if they can get a foot in the door to company A that would be worthwhile.
2) Your employees: startups tend to attract the bright go-getters - often useful to infuse a big old company
3) Your IP, the code and the patents, although given the fact that the big company can out compete you in terms of bruteforce coding then once they know what you are up to, which if you have come onto their radar they will do; then once you have proved your technology then you have a very short window in which to get bought before this last item becomes worthless because they can set 100 monkeys onto the job.

I've seen on a number of occasions the patents protect the small startup, but only as far as the demonstration of the specific technology they have developed.

Blackmail is illegal, right? (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836902)

Y'know, just asking. If this isn't a demand with menaces, it sure the hell ain't kippers.

The interesting part of this is the use of the patent system to prevent an inventor patenting their invention. (You know damn well that the company WILL file patents in ten years anyway and will make gob-loads of money, prior-art not withstanding.) The sole value of a patent system is to ALLOW the inventor to patent their invention. It serves no other function. (The other theoretical value of properly documenting an invention has long-since given up the ghost.) That we now have a verifiable, demonstrable example of patent inversion shows that the system as it stands must be replaced.

That's not what blackmail means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837480)

Y'know, just asking. If this isn't a demand with menaces, it sure the hell ain't kippers.

I recommend you read this [uslegal.com].

State laws vary, but the following is an example of a state blackmail statute:

"21-3428. Blackmail.

Blackmail is gaining or attempting to gain anything of value or compelling another to act against such person's will, by threatening to communicate accusations or statements about any person that would subject such person or any other person to public ridicule, contempt or degradation.

Blackmail is a severity level 7, nonperson felony"

Okay, let's look at the rest of the post.

The interesting part of this is the use of the patent system to prevent an inventor patenting their invention. (You know damn well that the company WILL file patents in ten years anyway and will make gob-loads of money, prior-art not withstanding.) The sole value of a patent system is to ALLOW the inventor to patent their invention. It serves no other function. (The other theoretical value of properly documenting an invention has long-since given up the ghost.)

They weren't preventing him from patenting the invention in any way. Just saying that he wouldn't benefit from that so much to make the cost worthwhile (and would probably need to pay some court fees to get his money). Two very different things.

Also, the ide of patent system is not to allow the inventor to patent inventions. It is not that recursive. The idea is to allow him to benefit from it. Again, he might have benefitted from it but it would probably have been too much trouble to be worth it from.

As for documenting... It is long-since given up ghost... BECAUSE of the patent system. If we go back to "Everything you want to protect must be a business secret" mentality, it will probably come back. Do you want "Company A invented something, patented it, didn't really find any use for it and 20 years later others get to use it" or "Company A invented something, didn't really come up with any uses but kept it secret 'just to be sure'... And that's it."

That we now have a verifiable, demonstrable example of patent inversion shows that the system as it stands must be replaced.

We have one new anecdote.

Re:Blackmail is illegal, right? (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837558)

I've been thinking about this and I seriously can't come up with a way to improve the patent system in a way that will mean it can't be abused in some way.
All the current abuses of the patent system I am aware of involve doing things that are already banned under the current rules: obviousness, prior art etc. It used to be that a patent would be to prevent the large corporation copying your idea and running you out of business. Nowadays the patent system prevents the inventor even selling anything in the first place because it is impossible to come up with a device that doesn't infringe someone's patent. It seems now that a patent protects the large corporation from the small corporation.

All said and done I don't know what change would make it any better,
perhaps:
* Corporations may not own patents, only individuals
* Corporations are not allowed to force an employee to give them access to one of his patents.
* No individual may own more than 100 Patents(so make them count).

But these are all open to abuse, the first would mean some hairy employment contracts, the second would lead to some individuals trolling their company (sometimes fairly, sometimes much less so), the final one maybe the least vulnerable to abuse, but IMO quite unfair to a really good inventor.

That all said and done though I have been royally screwed by the patent system myself so I'm hardly the best person to ask about this..

And that's why, my friends, patents are evil. (3, Interesting)

wazoox (1129681) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836904)

As said in the freely available e-book "against intellectual monopoly". I didn't write it, but it's well worth a read.

Patent for a specific application of Graphene (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836916)

It would be hundreds of patents of specific use of Graphene, not of Graphene itself.

What Geim needs to do is open a small production facility, produce this Graphene and sell it to different companies / research institutes, see what they can come up with.

--
Oh, as to patents, all patents should be abolished.

Re:Patent for a specific application of Graphene (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837188)

Right, and the patents on the basic uses of graphene will be useless because without the patent on graphene itself these companies won't be able to manufacture the stuff.

It's patents 101. Getting a patent on something gives you the right to prevent others from using the claimed matter in the patent. It doesn't give you the right to practice what you have patented because your invention might depend on a technology that someone else has a patent on.

If somebody had given me that line quoted in the story I would have laughed. There are plenty of ways to monetize such a patent that would make it far cheaper for the company wishing to develop graphene based applications than going through all sorts of legal fights, and there are plenty of patent businesses that would cherfully take on such a fight.

Re:Patent for a specific application of Graphene (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837458)

Right, and the patents on the basic uses of graphene will be useless because without the patent on graphene itself these companies won't be able to manufacture the stuff.

Which is completely wrong. If that were true, no one else would have been able to produce rubber after Charles Goodyear patented vulcanization. But this wasn't the case as other people just came up with their own way to manufacture it. Geim cannot just get a blanket patent on "graphene" but only on a specific manufacturing process or usage of it.

Or... he had nothing worth patenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836936)

His patent would have been for using scotch tape to peel graphene off graphite after several iterations of placing the tape on an SiO2 wafer. IANAL, but he can't patent graphene itself; if someone comes up with a better way (and there are now many better, commercially viable ways) to make it, his patent would be worthless.

Indeed, his IP is worthless now because other researchers leapfrogged him in ability to make high-quality, high throughput graphene a long time ago. Case in point, he runs a company called "Graphene Industries" that sells little flakes of his stuff for about $1000 each. By contrast, there are companies such as this one [grapheneenergy.net] (I am not affiliated with them) that produce graphene via CVD, which is a well-known semiconductor process, for probably a very small fraction of that.

Why are some people so completly evil? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33836940)

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Corporations, and their masters have become absolutely powerful and absolutely evil. The only thing more absolute is people's denial and greed.

How many people have sold themselves out into corporate slavery?

Now, go as your told, boy.

I'm confused. (3, Funny)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33836942)

It also has the largest surface-to-weight ratio: with one gram of graphene you can cover several football pitches (in Manchester, you know, we measure surface area in football pitches).

Can someone put this in terms of American Football fields please? Or perhaps school buses will work...thanks.

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837052)

I believe in America you use colloquialisms for situations like these, rather than formal (let alone SI) units.

The relevant one here being "an asstonne"

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837108)

Several football pitches is roughly equivalent to several American football fields. I looked it up.

Re:I'm confused. (1)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837110)

Tricky, since an Association Football pitch, for non-international matches could be as small as 45m * 91m = 4,095m^2 or as large as 91m * 120m = 10,920m^2

But then I suppose "several" is sufficiently vague to compensate for the variation.

1 football pitch = 1.334 US football fields (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837132)

A soccer field (BrE: football pitch) is 105 by 68 meters, or exactly 0.714 hectare. It's about one and a third U.S. football fields, which are 360 by 160 feet, or 0.5351 ha. So yes, 1 gram of graphene would still cover several football fields (in Indianapolis, you know, we measure surface area in football fields).

Re:I'm confused. (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837194)

I think the fuckton would be a better unit of measurement to use as it is universally recognized, regardless of the fact that it is a unit of weight and not area. Clarity, y'know?

Re:I'm confused. (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837232)

(in Manchester, you know, we measure surface area in football pitches).

Can someone put this in terms of American Football fields please?

Ah, you must be from the American part of Manchester.

- RG>

Re:I'm confused. (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837262)

What most of the world calls football, the US calls soccer. And by pitches, they don't mean throws, they mean the same as fields.
As to stones, the British girlfriend I had didn't even know exactly what the hell that was, just that it was a lot larger than a couple pounds weight.

I know this doesn't answer your question, but I'm simply highlighting the apparent British tendency to use esoteric measurements that just confuse most people for no other apparent reason that it just seems British. (You really don't want to hear a friend of mines 15 minute rant on the stupidity of the UK phone system. It's hilarious if painful.)

Re:I'm confused. (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837380)

How about the size of Wales? I need to know this in area-of-Wales units. Or alternatively, Rhode ISland.

Special Slashdot Memo #456555 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837042)

You CANNOT patent basic elements: Graphene [wikipedia.org] is a form of carbon.

However, you CAN patent a process for using graphene.

Go ahead and mod this post DOWN !

Yours In Akademgorodok,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Special Slashdot Memo #456555 (3, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837298)

You CANNOT patent basic elements: Graphene [wikipedia.org] is a form of carbon.

It wouldn't be a patent on carbon itself as graphene can be considered an indefinitely large molecule. In the US it would be a patent on a 'composition of matter,' which is one of the basic classes of statutory subject matter. Although graphene does occur naturally in graphite and elsewhere, it does not occur in an isolated, purified form. The patent claims would be to isolated, purified graphene, probably having certain other characteristics (e.g., an average sheet size of at least X mm or whatever). All of this would be backed up with a description of (and probably claims for) a method of making graphene with those characteristics.

Re:Special Slashdot Memo #456555 (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837448)

You can patent a method for producing graphene, not just for using it.

Example - the Aluminium purification process presently in use across the industry was patented once upon a time. The zone recrystallisation used to purify Si and other semiconductor materials was also patented. Both patents have expired now, but they were perfectly valid patents on how to produce what you call a "basic element".

Geim is one froody cat (2, Informative)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837098)

Finally, are you one of those Nobel prizewinners who is going to go crazy now that you've won?

...I'll try to keep my sanity as long as possible.

The dude seems to know where his towel is.

Patents (4, Insightful)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837152)

Maybe patents use to work 50 years ago. Now it is always the case that the company with deeper pockets always gets its way one way or the other. What really gets to me is the hypocrisy of people saying 'patents protect innovators'. They do not. Patents do anything but protecting innovation.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837388)

Don't worry; the Chinese research corporations are going to patent every imaginable use for it, while the Chinese manufacturers ignore all of the patents. Yes, you can play both sides of the coin and win on both with the same toss.

Re:Patents (1)

wizkid (13692) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837422)

Patent's Used to protect innovators. Unfortunately, the lawyers got involved. The patent system now needs a re-write to get back to it's original intention. But with the fox in the hen-house, (Corrupt lobbyists controlling congress) we're not going to see this until we change congress. See change-congress.org for details.

Hmmm,
I double-checked my link, and if you type changecongress instead of change-congress, you go to the democrat website. Democrats are half the problem with congress. Of course the republicans are the other half of the problem. Both are owned by corporate America. It's a sad state this country is in....

Re:Patents (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837516)

Patents worked when people were honorable.

The problem is, people aren't really honorable, at least not the ones with power and money (rare exceptions excluded). They didn't get power and money by playing 100% fair, they got there by taking advantage of every situation they could.

Patents worked when people were honorable because they did not yet realize the various ways to game the patent system to their advantage. Now, 50 years later, its an industry on its own, with men and women who's sole job is to figure out ways to twist the written laws into a way that suits them rather than the actual, good spirited intention of the laws.

Its not unique to patents, this sort of behavior is simply the way people work, like it or not. Everything works this way on a large scale. Sure you can have a good small business in a small town that flourishes because its good to its customers and its customers like it, but on the large scale it simply doesn't work because someone else is willing to cut every corner possible to take your customers and the customers don't always know that they are hurting themselves by going with the other guy so the other guy wins unless you play his game.

Sad, but true.

How do you keep a patent alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837260)

Inform the ignorant, please. I thought patents expire after a pre-set amount of years.
How does sponsoring it keep it alive for longer?

Re:How do you keep a patent alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837332)

Inform the ignorant, please. I thought patents expire after a pre-set amount of years. How does sponsoring it keep it alive for longer?

Someone has to feed and water the lawyers.

Re:How do you keep a patent alive? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837522)

Laws might vary from country to country, but there's a couple things at play:

1) In the most basic sense, I think most patents expire after like 5 or 10 years, but you can renew it for another 10 years, or something like that. You can only renew a finite number of times, usually, for a total limit of 20 or 40 years or something.

2) You can also 'extend' the patent by creating 'new' patents that derive off the old patent - the pharmaceutical industry is particularly active with this sort - you start with say a basic pill. Then 5 years later, you get a patent for the same drug in a gel-cap formulation. Then 5 years later you get another patent for a chewable formulation, etc. So, you create a 'new' invention which is the old invention plus some slight improvement.

      Or, you get a patent on a different way to mass-produce the product much more cheaply/efficiently, so that even though the product itself is no longer patented, you control the patent on the most superior way to produce the product, so that you have a significant competitive advantage vis-a-vis the competition.

      Or you get individual patents on new applications of the old product, so that you are the only one who can use the product in the new application.

Geim also won the Ig Nobel (4, Interesting)

walmass (67905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837274)

TFA asks: "Finally, are you one of those Nobel prizewinners who is going to go crazy now that you've won? "

The interviewer probably didn't know that Dr. Geim won the Ig Nobel [improbable.com] for levitating a frog.

Between that and the fact that he cited saving taxpayer's money as a reason behind not filing a patent and his Friday experiments (which led to the scotch-tape on graphite) discovery, I think I have a new hero.

"That's a direct quote" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837348)

It's also bullshit. Yes, they might be able to tie him up in court, but it would cost them more than it would cost him. That's why companies often pay up rather than fight patents that are weaker than his might have been. Cheaper to license or purchase the patent, unless the owner is insanely greedy.

Re:"That's a direct quote" (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837548)

Read the quote again. It's not a threat, it's an offer to work together.

Basically, the company is saying that they will take his work and turn it into a portfolio of really useful things, patents and products. So many, in fact, that they will forget to pay up for the licenses. But by that time, Geim would already be filthy rich living on a tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific.

He would spend his days, daiquiri in hand, dispatching lawyers to gather up licensing fees from delinquent companies. The company would make sure there were enough useful applications around his patent that there wouldn't be any way to avoid stepping on it.

He threw it all away because he thought that idea was arrogant.

I give up - hwat is the diff between UK, GB and .. (1)

fkx (453233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837390)

I give up - hwat is the diff between UK, GB and England.

Don't they all have the same ancestors? Neanderthals?

What?

Re:I give up - hwat is the diff between UK, GB and (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837540)

England is simply the country of England.
Great Britain is geographically the island that encompasses England and Scotland. Politically it can also include Wales as well.
The UK is the inclusion of Great Britain, Wales, the many smaller isles around Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

patents and the US legal system (4, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33837418)

Patent System: A system put in place to be manipulated to protect corporate IP while stifling competitive innovation.

Legal System: A corporate asset which is manipulated to keep innovative products from being competitive.

Seems like a good justification for Homicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33837474)

Or more likely pest eradication. Vermin like representatives at this "multinational electronics company" should be removed from the planet without remorse.
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