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Overview of Materials Engineering and its applications and protections in the field of Intellectual Property

By: Samuel Fonseca

January 9, 2023

With the world more competitive, there is an increasing search for differentiation in products and processes by companies and inventors, who aim to increase their performance, increase productivity, and competitive advantages (as a result of tangible and intangible assets), leading to the constant need for technological changes through innovation.

Thus, in the face of the globalized market, companies are paying attention to their intangible assets, with the proper use of patents as a competitive instrument. Intellectual property, as well as patent laws, is considered to be one of the most important regulatory vehicles that promote technological innovation.

Based on the Industrial Property Law (IPL), a patent can be defined as a legal instrument that protects an invention resulting from a great research and development effort by a company or a researcher in the development of new products and technological processes, making it a safe investment, profitable and legitimate.

When we think about innovation and technology, it is inherent to also think about Materials Engineering, since one of the sectors in which it is very present is the Research and Development sector, being considered multidisciplinary engineering and responsible for researching and studying materials such as metals, ceramics, plastics and resins for industry and also possible technical improvements in their properties to apply them as needed, using just one of them or making a combination of properties, such as composite materials, to create something new.

In addition, with the indications of the consequences of global warming that are observed nowadays, the concern with sustainability is present in the area of materials engineering, based on the need for products that are less aggressive to the environment both during and after the process of manufacturing. The same concern exists for the end of the material’s life cycle. In these aspects, materials engineering helps in the development of products and processes for recycling and reuse of materials, minimizing environmental impacts and generating value from the reuse of waste.

At the same time, it is known that patent offices around the world have adopted procedures that aim to speed up the analysis of patent applications referring to inventions that reduce environmental impacts. In Brazil, there is the “Green Patents” program by BPTO, which aims to enable a decision to be made to processes submitted and approved within two years. In this way, materials engineering becomes an ally and an additional incentive in the design and implementation of this program to accelerate the analysis of sustainable technologies.

Furthermore, nanostructures have played a significant role, due to the diversity of their structural shapes and peculiar properties, in applications in nanotechnology, such as additives for ceramic, plastic, and textile materials, biosensors for diagnostics, or fluorescent markers, in addition to electronic devices.

The potential of nanotechnology in materials engineering is immense. New nanostructured polymeric materials are being developed, with properties superior to the existing ones. In addition, the very form of production, with new manufacturing processes for these materials, will tend to undergo profound transformations, thus influencing the increasing protection of these innovations as patents.

In view of the above, if we consider that patent documents are excellent sources of information and function as an indicator of technological performance, being accepted to quantify innovation research, in general analysis, an evolution in filings patents applications can be seen in this technical field of materials engineering, which has many opportunities and a lot to add to intellectual property, thus demonstrating an interest of companies and the scientific community in researching and developing innovations related to new materials and products and new improved manufacturing processes for the same.

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