China and America have gone ape-shit filing graphene patents with 4,000 between them, according to Cambridge IP, while the UK, which discovered the material, has filed only 54.
Korea has also got a good haul with 1,160 graphene patents – led Samsung with 407. IBM has 134.
Of course the number of patents doesn’t disclose who has the fundamental graphene patents, but there is a worry for the West – that there’s no one to do the work to commercialise graphene.
“We killed famous labs like Bell Labs. Companies have slimmed down so they can no longer top afford research institutes,” Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Andrei Geim of Manchester University, co-discoverer of graphene, tells the BBC, “they can’t see beyond a ten year horizon and graphene is beyond this horizon.”
Geim and Sir Konstantin Novoselov discovered graphene in 2004. Since 2007, the patent filing rush has been mounting and Cambridge IP says that 7,351 graphene patents have now been granted or applied for.
Before Christmas, the UK government announced a £60m graphene research funding programme.
This may be spread around a bit as is the way of these things and it’s possible the UK needs someone to monitor, push and co-ordinate the different initiatives an protect the UK’s IP interests .
The first time I heard this idea it came from Mike Bryant, and it may well be that the UK needs a sort of Graphene Czar.
As native Russians, Sir Andrei and Sir Konstantin know all about Czars.