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NEC claims carbon nanotube monopoly, offers licenses

Posted: 08 Mar 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:nec? nanotube material?

NEC Corp. asserted Wednesday (March 3, 2004) that it owns essential patents on carbon nanotubes and, as a result, all companies seeking to make or sell carbon nanotube materials must obtain licenses from NEC.

At the same time NEC said it had granted Sumitomo Corp. a nonexclusive license to operate under the basic Japanese patents owned by NEC that cover carbon nanotubes.

"NEC's carbon nanotube patents, under which Sumitomo has acquired a license from NEC, are basic patents and, therefore, it is necessary to acquire a license from NEC in order to gain the rights to manufacture, or sell carbon nanotubes," said Botaro Hirosaki, associate SVP of NEC's intellectual asset operations unit.

Carbon nanotubes, in single- and multi-walled forms, are drawing attention as nano-mechanical and nano-electronic materials. According to NEC, Sumio Iijima, a senior research fellow at NEC, discovered the carbon nanotube in 1991.

"NEC is proactively working on the development of industrial applications of carbon nanotubes. Having concluded the first patent license agreement for carbon nanotubes with Sumitomo, NEC is ready to grant a license under its patents, with suitable conditions, to those companies which require a license," said NEC's Hirosaki.

"Acquiring the license under NEC's carbon nanotube patents will enable us to contribute to the development of industrial applications of the carbon nanotube, and will also grant us a head start over the competition," said Yutaka Takagi, general manager of the electronics division of Sumitomo. Takagi said Sumitomo's move supports U.S. based manufacturing of single-walled carbon nanotubes by Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. and Sumitomo's plans for sales promotion.

None of the terms and conditions of Sumitomo's license was disclosed.

- Peter Clarke

Silicon Strategies

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