Gearing Up for Graphene

 Patenting new ‘wonder material’ graphene is challenging, yet exciting. 

Patenting new products and innovations is something to which Richard Gearhart, founder of Summit-based Gearhart Law, is no stranger. This is why Dr. Gordon Chiu, president and co-founder of Grafoid Inc., chose the law firm to assist with intellectual property filings that deal with a breakthrough “miracle material” called graphene.

Chiu, who was a former research scientist at Pfizer and Merck & Co., and a current visiting research fellow at Rutgers University and the National University of Singapore, among other notable positions, is on a mission to develop, patent and secure the global rights for specific graphene technologies.

Graphene, which was discovered in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, is a single two-dimensional layer of tightly-packed carbon atoms bonded together in hexagonal honeycomb lattice. It is the thinnest, yet strongest material ever created, and is highly flexible and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.

Chiu and his company Grafoid, along with the help of Gearhart Law, have been active in helping to patent innovations utilizing MesoGraf™, a proprietary suite of graphene products that is manufactured in a one-step process directly from raw, unprocessed graphite ore.

Grafoid is partnering with various entities to further develop MesoGraf™ in uses such as “the development of next generation, quick-charge, long-life, rechargeable graphene-lithium, to create new, patentable graphene derivatives combined with other elements,” and other joint venture applications that are under development, such as “MesoGraf™-infused aircraft composites, rust-proof shipping containers, solar panel materials” and much more, Chiu says.

Even though graphene seems to have “limitless” potential, the pace at which entrepreneurs and innovators are discovering applications for it is making it a challenge to patent, according to Gearhart.

“Because of the explosion of technologies, and the number of patents that are being filed, it is very challenging to come up with appropriate protection strategies for these inventors,” he says.

In order to obtain a patent, Gearhart Law assists its clients in making sure the invention is novel and unobvious. Then, the firm conducts a search and compares its client’s invention to other patents that are available. Based on the legal conclusion from that process, it will draft and file a patent application.

Currently, the firm is working on additional graphene patents for Chiu and his company. Gearhart sees graphene becoming “as big as plastic.”

“The people who work in these areas are pioneers because the field is so wide open,” he concludes. “The inventors, at this point, are limited only by their own imaginations and it is going to be very exciting to see what kinds of technologies emerge from the material.”

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