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An Analysis of Worldwide Patent Filings
Relating to Graphene
Patent Informatics Team, Intellectual Property Office
Concept House, Cardiff Rd, Newport, South Wales, NP10 8QQ, UK
[email protected]
The patenting of graphene-related technology took off rapidly in the 2000s. The
largest patent portfolio is held by Samsung, and the top two applicants have only
been active in the field since 2007. Half of the applicants hold patents relating to
fewer than five inventions, illustrating the youth of this emerging technology.
Developments are still relatively research-based, with a large portion of academic
participation, although consumer applications such as flexible touchscreen
displays are getting closer to reality. A range of different research strategies are
evident from patent collaborations; Samsung exhibits a reasonable amount of
collaboration whilst other top applicants show none. In contrast to the specialism
evident from most applicants, Samsung is active in a very diverse range of
graphene-related technology. Inventions are classified in a wide range of
International Patent Classifications (IPCs), though the majority of these relate to
its chemistry and processing; the others define a varying range of potential
applications for graphene. Though this is a rapidly emerging technology, the
trends in the current patent data indicate that it will not prove to be disruptive in
Graphene is  considered  a nanomaterial  as it
consists  of sheets  of carbon atoms a single
layer thick in a hexagonal arrangement  [1].
The number of graphene-related patent
applications received at  the IPO has increased
over the last few years  since applications in
electronics, opto-electronics, and photonics
devices have been discovered and are in
development. The media refer to graphene as
the “miracle material of the 21st  Century” [2]
and  its  public profile was recently boosted
when the Nobel  Prize in Physics  2010  was
awarded to Andre Geim and  Konstantin
Novoselov of Manchester University “for
groundbreaking experiments regarding the
two-dimensional material graphene” [3].  
The media buzz around graphene is not
surprising  given some  of its properties  –  it is
the thinnest known  material in the universe
and the strongest ever  measured [4]; for a
crystalline  structure  it is elastic and can
stretch  up to 20% of  its  length; it  is a  very  
efficient  electrical conductor and can sustain  
current  densities six orders of magnitude  
higher than  that of  copper at room  
temperature; its charge carriers have the  
highest intrinsic mobility; it has the  best  
thermal conductivity of any material;  and  it is  
the most impermeable material ever  
discovered [5].  
General Patenting Trends  
Searching in the  EPODOC and WPI  patent
databases in July 2011 yielded 3018  published  
patent documents  which are related to  
graphene.  The earliest m ention of  graphene  
appears in a patent published 12 December  
1994,  having a priority dating back to  1991
and assigned to UCAR  Carbon Technology  
Corporation [6]. No  subsequent patent filings  
were made under  this name.  This document  
discusses  intercalated graphite compounds,  
Patent Informatics Team 2