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ABSTRACT: As a consequence of large public and private investments in new technologies at the nanoscale, an increase in the filing numbers of European and PCT patent applications related to nanotechnology is expected at the European Patent Office (EPO) in the coming years. A strategy has been devised to prepare the EPO for potential impacts this interdisciplinary emerging technology might have on workload per technical field, classification and search. A part of the strategy has been to create an internal working group on nanotechnology (NTWG) of patent examiners from different technical fields reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of this 'size' defined emerging field. First results of this NTWG are agreement within the EPO on a definition of nanotechnology and the creation of the corresponding tagging system Y01N which enables the monitoring of the evolution of patenting trends in this area of technology. The tags overcome the intrinsic difficulties in retrieving relevant patent publications from the huge amount of information contained in the EPO's patent databases. In addition it is expected that access to Y01N via esp@cenet terms will simplify prior art search of nanotechnology patents and will support strategic decision making for economists, investors or funding agencies in nanotechnology.
World Patent Information 01/2006; 28(3):204-211.