World Intellectual Property Organization

In the News

December 2010

Last GDR patent expires

The last patent granted by the Office for Inventions and Patents of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) expired at the end of October 2010, according to a report in The Local: Germany’s News in English. Patent number DD 298536 for a rotary screw cooling compressor was granted on October 2, 1990 – just one day before reunification – to Dieter Mosemann, a prominent engineer and inventor. Mr. Mosemann, Development Director at the state-owned company VEB Kühlautomat, and his team created cooling systems still used around the world for a wide range of appliances, including supermarket freezers, airplane climate control and applications for cooling indoor ski slopes.

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Centenary of Dutch patent law

Dutch patent authorities are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the 1910 Patent Law (Rijksoctrooiwet). In A Century of Patents in the Netherlands, a jubilee volume published for the occasion, authors from the Dutch patent community offer a vision of the past, present and future of patent law. A special series of stamps featuring 10 unique Dutch inventions has also been issued, and an interactive touring exhibition of Dutch inventions, the Patent Parade, is on a one-year journey around the Netherlands. The country’s first Patent Act was enacted in 1817 and subsequently abolished in 1869 when the Netherlands “acquired the image of a free-spirited nation.”

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Self-repairing solar cells

Millions of solar cells are used in devices, such as solar panels, for harnessing the sun’s energy – but when sunlight mixes with the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere, it can have a destructive effect on solar cells, limiting their long-term effectiveness. Professor Michael Strano, a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his team of researchers have been seeking ways to minimize solar cell deterioration.

They found that minute solar cells can repair themselves using proteins from the inner workings of plants. Professor Strano and his team demonstrated that tapping into the photosynthetic reaction center of plants could lead to solar cells with much longer lives thanks to this self-regenerating mechanism. The experiment employed lipids and carbon nanotubes, known for their electrical properties, as well as a surfactant, a molecule that breaks other molecules apart and keeps them separate. Once all parts had been combined, the surfactant was removed, with the result that the other ingredients assembled themselves into an array of working solar cells – only a few nanometers wide. The cells draw on this self-assembly process in order to repair themselves.

Published in Nature Chemistry, the research shows that, while more remains to be done to refine the efficiency of regenerated solar cells, this could lead to a breakthrough in improving solar cell production, and thus to enhanced, sustainable environmental benefits.

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Hollywood and Bollywood sign historic agreement

Representatives of the world’s two most prominent film industries, Hollywood and Bollywood, signed an historic cooperation agreement at Paramount Picture Studios in Hollywood in early November 2010. Under its terms, the city of Los Angeles and the Indian film industry agree to “develop and strengthen motion picture production, distribution, technology, content protection and commercial cooperation between the two filmmaking communities,” according to a press release issued by the Motion Picture Association of America on November 10, 2010. The two parties also support the establishment of the Los Angeles-India Film Council to boost Indian film production in Los Angeles. In March, the two industries launched in Mumbai, India, the Alliance Against Copyright Theft, an Indian-based coalition to protect content.

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