Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Intellectual Property, Patents and the Space Industry

          By Chuck Black

Cincinnati OH based multi-national consumer goods corporation Proctor & Gamble and Mountain View, CA based Made In Space, which specializes in the engineering and manufacturing of three-dimensional printers for use in microgravity, have filed patents for new products based on commercial research they've performed on-board the International Space Station (ISS).

As outlined in the August 29th, 2018 NASA Spaceflight post, "First patents filed from commercial research on Space Station, crew readies for busy period," Procter & Gamble has filed for three US patents and Made in Space has filed for one. The four filings represent the first known patent applications based on ISS research. 

The Made in Space patent application is perhaps the most interesting and covers the manufacturing of ZBLAN optical fiber which, as discussed in the July 13th, 2016 Techcrunch post, "Made In Space plans to create a superior optical fiber in microgravity," was previously identified as being a useful material to manufacture in space, due to its exceptional properties.

According to the April 16th, 2015 Intellectual Property post, "Space Law: The Commercialization of Space and its Patents," current law regarding intellectual property in this area is governed by the NASA Authorization Act of 2010:
This legislation allows the discoverer to maintain intellectual property rights as long as experiments and procedures are approved by NASA. These contracts allow organizations to profit from their discoveries as long as these discoveries are also shared in completion with NASA with the potential for further use.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) will be holding a one day "Seminar for SMEs : Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer in the space sector," in order to discuss new opportunities in this area on September 12th, 2018 in Calgary AB.

While the focus of the seminar is expected to be the July 20th, 2018 CIPO report "Patents in Space; Highlighting Innovation in the Canadian Space Sector," along with a general overview of IP in crown procurement, it's quite likely that some of the items discussed above will also come up.

According to the NASA Spaceflight post, "over 2,600 experiments have been performed aboard the International Space Station over its life, with over 3,000 investigators of those experiments scattered around the world."
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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