Despite the large number of publications in peer review literature in the field of nanofibers, there is still uncertainty as to what aspects of these research results have commercial applications. In an effort to better understand the technological progress made in the field of nanofibers, we surveyed the patents issued in the United States from 1976 up to end 2006. The present review will provide an overall view of the current patent landscape including trends and key applications. Key assignees and key inventors were identified and their contributions were discussed. Patents were identified using keywords such as nanofibers, ultrafine, and electrospinning. After patents were downloaded, we reviewed each patent for relevancy and identified 100 patents to be related to nanofibers. 75% of the current issued patents on nanofibers are directed at either fabrication methods or the use of nanofibers in filtration systems. The patent data indicates that medical applications and medical products using nanofibers appear to be the emerging application for nanofibers. We anticipate a growing number of patents on novel applications for nanofiber would originate from academic centers in the future.
Keywords: Nanofiber, nanotechnology, patents, intellectual property, key assignees, key inventors, electrospinning
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