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Graphene is an exceptionally thin, strong, and transparent material that's a good conductor of heat and electricity. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won a Nobel Prize in 2010 for its discovery. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports on what this means:
"As soon as I find something, boom! I file a patent for it," says James Tour, a graphene expert at Rice University in Houston.
Apple has filed to patent graphene "heat dissipators" for mobile devices. Saab has filed to patent graphene heating circuits for deicing airplane wings. Lockheed Martin this year was granted a U.S. patent on a graphene membrane that filters salt from seawater using microscopic pores.
...."It's a land grab," says Mr. Tannock of Cambridge Intellectual. By trying to patent just about every finding, "you have the option for suing your competitors later and stopping them." Many graphene patent filings appear legitimate, but some seem speculative and others may be decoys to mislead rivals, he says.
Perhaps one of graphene's other miracle properties will turn out to be the ability to end the horrible job market currently faced by law school graduates.