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Cheers to Blawgers!

Friday, December 29, 2006

A quote from this week's Time Magazine:

We're looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it's just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

I know that this has been discussed in many other blogs, so let me just be the tail: Cheers to fellow blawgers who has shared their knowledge in the blogosphere. Hopefully next year people will have a faster, better and cheaper access to the legal knowledge. Law for everyone!

Happy New Year!

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The so-called Berkeley Nanotechnology Regulation

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The famous first-in-the-world Nanotechnology Regulation of the City of Berkeley took effect last week. Curious on what the law actually contains? Take a peek:
15.12.040 Filing of disclosure information.
I. All facilities that manufacture or use manufactured nanoparticles shall submit a separate written disclosure of the current toxicology of the materials reported, to the extent known, and how the facility will safely handle, monitor, contain, dispose, track inventory, prevent releases and mitigate such materials.

15.12.050 Quantities requiring disclosure.
C. The following disclosure requirements shall apply in addition to those in subsections A and B of this section:
7. All manufactured nanoparticles, defined as a particle with one axis less than 100
nanometers in length, shall be reported in the disclosure plan.
That's it. Simple right? Nothing's special at all, the regulation only imposes a duty to report the toxicology features of nanoparticles being manufactured. Here's my analysis:
  1. The duty is to report, no more, no less
  2. There are no exact standard as to the form of the report
  3. General minimum disclosure standards may apply. Producers shall disclose anything within the boundaries of their present knowledge. Non disclosure may arise civil liability
  4. It only applies to "manufactured" nanoparticles produced in the Jurisdiction of the city of Berkeley. That means, natural nanoparticle or nanoparticle resulting from side-reaction could be exempted from this regulation. This could also mean that nanoparticles being imported to Berkeley is outside the scope of this regulation
  5. The city cannot ban production and sale of nanoparticles by simply basing itself on the regulation. These are EPA's authority
  6. The regulation does not regulate nanotechnology as a whole! It only regulates nanoparticle. Obviously, nanostructures are exempted from this regulation
  7. There could be problems with regards to the definition of "nanoparticle"
So, those are the analysis. Really-realy nothing special. I wonder why it had been such a big fuss. By the way, you can download the draft regulation yourself here. Let me know if your analysis are different than mine.

Any information contained herein is intended as a general discussion on legal and other corresponding issues. Tips and advices given on these issues do not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion. You shall seek independent counsel to act upon any laws discussed in this weblog.

ATTENTION: This post has been updated here.


About Indonesian Law Report

The world's changing and so does the provision of legal services. Internet has make it possible for legal services to be provided one-to-many, done collaboratively with other professionals. Of course, this does not mean that tailor-made legal services are no longer required, it is still actual for the time being but it is also in the process of transformation. This simple weblog is never meant to "row the boat", it is only meant to "ride the wave" of legal transformation, a little token from a lawyer to the knowledge society.

In short, the purposes of this weblog are to:

  • Make friends. Web 2.0 is about networking and collaborating and network always worth more than treasure. If you'd like to be "my friends", you can add me on the social networking sites I listed on the right panel. If you are not listed on those sites, then an email would do fine. Drop me email (movanet[at]gmail.com) and say hi!
  • Participate in the Long Tail of legal services. Longtail phenomenon will dramatically alter the future of legal services and we want to participate in it
  • Legal promulgation. Everyone knows that this country is not so good when it comes to legal promulgation. Draft laws cannot be easily accessed, judicial decisions are hard to get, legislations, acts and decisions are segregated in numerous governmental websites. This weblog will serve as your aggregator for those sources
  • Research tool. The Google Custom Search on the right panel crawls only specific institutions dealing with legislations, policy making and law enforcement, in addition to this weblog
  • Legal education. It is a medium from me to learn the law and for you to add some more. It is always better to know our rights and obligations
  • Self help. This weblog will contain simple tips on how to deal with the bureaucracy. You can also drop a question or two. If I cannot answer your question, I'll forward it to my friends

Have fun!

Any information contained herein is intended as a general discussion on legal and other corresponding issues. Tips and advices given on these issues do not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion. You shall seek independent counsel to act upon any laws discussed in this weblog.


For your legal research: a new search box!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I've just added a research tool to this blog in order to assist your work. The Google-powered custom search box is located in the right panel. I like this feature a lot and I use it for my own researches too.

The Reason? First, it is linked to external websites, so you won't be searching only this site. Second, there is no need to re enter "nano" or "nanotechnology" in your search box. You can directly enter terms such as "health", "environment", "patent", etc and the search will automatically show up in a nanotechnology context for I have filtered it for you. Third, the website/homepage lists will be continously updated. So, your search box will always be updated. Searching using normal google.com box may not deliver you the best outcome as the search result is too broad. Such is not the case with the Nanotechlaw search box.

Anyway, if you want to search this blog's posts only, you can use the column provided by Blogger located in the top left of this page. You can enter the search term there and it will show you results exclusively from this blog.

Have fun!

Merry X-mas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

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Nanotech regulations in Canada?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

This column written by a lawyer for The Globe is worth to read:
How many nanotech products are being manufactured and sold in Canada? What kind of emissions are being produced and released? What happens when nanomaterials enter the environment? Do they break down into other substances or are they persistent? Do they build up in the bodies of living organisms? What is the level of exposure of Canadians to nanomaterials? What are safe levels of exposure? What are the health effects of exposure to nanomaterials? What laws or regulations will ensure the safety of workers, consumers and the environment?

There are no answers to these questions. There has never been a debate in the House of Commons or even in a parliamentary committee about the policy implications of this new technology. As Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl has acknowledged, "none of us knows anything about nanotechnology."

"None of us knows anything bout nanotech". As has been previously discussed, this does not necessarily means that it is entirely not regulated. When there is a case, courts will decide based on legal principles. The drawbacks: more to risk-mitigation than risk avoidance. The GMO and asbestos case may reoccur.

Hat tip: Mike Treder/CRN

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Defend yourself using blog networks

Friday, December 22, 2006

Emerging technologies such as nanotech is a two-bladed sword for venture capitalists. It is a raising trend as more and more products are sold on the market, it is strongly associated with modernism, it is very promising as it will shape the future world. These factors will trigger people to invest. The media and blogosphere contributed a lot to these developments. On the other hand, a single defective nano product can ruin the whole thing. The media and the blogosphere also plays a major stake here: what brings you up can always take you down.

Forbes had a good article which illustrate this case:
Then the bloggers attacked. A supposed crusading journalist launched an online campaign long on invective and wobbly on facts, posting articles on his Web log (blog) calling Halpern "deceitful,""unethical,""incredibly stupid" and "a pathological liar" who had misled investors. The author claimed to be Nick Tracy, a London writer who started his one-man "watchdog" Web site, our-street.com, to expose corporate fraud. He put out press releases saying he had filed complaints against Circle with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
Yahoo and Google is responsible for this (un?)holy alliance. Not only Google has its adsense advertisement network that feeds bloggers with money, not only that it hosted blogs and provide blogsearch, it also include blogger comments in its finance site. The commentaries will affect people's decision to invest.

Those are the drawbacks the longtail gives to the economy. Are there any remedies to this? Well, Forbes recommends to start building a blog network.

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Online meetings can be more effective than face to face

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Supporter of virtual lawfirm concept might be interested knowing this:
Face-to-face meetings are expensive to schedule and run. They might involve travel costs or come at inconvenient times, when attendees are busy or tired. Time is wasted when people come late, talk about irrelevant topics, or leave early. Meetings are also subject to many types of biases. How loudly do people talk? How deep are their voices? What do the people look like? How is the furniture arranged? How are people dressed? What is each person’s body posture? Who has the power? How does the group leader guide the meeting? Does the group nurture dissent? Do people have preconceived positions on the topic at hand?
Sometimes communication is more to form rather than content. As a result, people tend to focus on how we say and deliver things and not what we said. With written language, things like these can be masked. See the report here.

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Let's propose for a dot nano (.nano) TLD

Monday, December 18, 2006

There are too many domain names that begins with the word "nano" already. nanoabc.com is for sale (2.000 euro) and nanodeals.com is also for sale for 9900 pounds. With the rising nano business and rising marketshare, there will be a huge demand for nano-related trademarks and for certain, the demand for domain name that contains the word nano will increase. I don't think that domain name creator engines would still be able to suggest alternatives for the word nano. Moreover, as has been explained in my previous post, within a decade, every materials might contain nanoparticle. So, everything will be nano.

The nano domain name is going to be more crowded within 5 years and that can make problem. A solution would be creating a dot nano (.nano) top level domain (TLD). ICANN/Internic/IANA really should start considering this.

(I know what you are going to do next, I can read your mind... :p )

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Nanotech will affect every regulations within five years.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I mean what I say and I say what I mean.

Do you know why EPA bothers regulating a washing machine? It's because it contains tiny beene silver nanoparticles that can kill germs. Hell, it may even be the most primitive form of nanotech but look at its impact, they are declaring washing machine as pesticide!

Do you know that silver nanoparticles has been used in underwear, shirts, paint, deodorant, mineral supplement, toothpaste, liquid condom, refrigerator, vaccuum cleaner, ink, porcellain, make up, soap, rubber gloves, dental LED, dishwashing liquid, baby milk bottle, door handle, handy coating and air conditioner? Of course, not all of them will be categorized as pesticide!

Not only that we are only talking about a primitive use of nanotechnology, we also "only" talk about silver nanoparticles. There are still plenty other nanoparticle which its usage is still unknown. That's not all, this has not include "passive" nanostructures such as carbon nanotube, which will be used in transistors, computer hardware and medical appliances.

Nanotech market is going to be bullish in the next two years. Some even predicted that within a decade, people will no longer use the word "nanotechnology" because "Today's 'nano materials' are tomorrow's 'materials.'

The good news is (I mean, for lawyers) the regulation is still unclear and the risks associated with it is also unclear. This means not only more lawsuit but also more deals. So, let's catch up...

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The first virtual land case ever

Finally, real courts will have to deal with this question:
The attorney, Marc Bragg of West Chester, Pennsylvania, says game developer Linden Lab unilaterally shut down his Second Life account, cutting off his access to a substantial portfolio of real estate and currency in the virtual world. He's demanding $8,000 in restitution. Bragg claims Linden Lab froze his account after a land deal went bad. The attorney said he found a legitimate way to purchase land at prices far below market rates, using an online auction on the Second Life website. Bragg v. Linden Research, a civil complaint filed May 1 in West Chester's local district court, charges that Linden Lab "breached an auction contract by allowing the land to auction, accepting online payment, and then suspending plaintiff's account."
The case may be weak as Brag's argument is not strongly founded. However, as stated by freelance Journalist Tony Walsh, "he might be the first person in history to sue over a virtual land deal gone sour."

Your reading list

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dear all,

This is your nanotechnology law related reading list. You can keep yourself updated by adding yourself to my del.icio network.

Have a nice weekend!

Nanotech NIOSH to Issue Guidance for Employers
"The presence of an occupational health surveillance program – represented at the minimum level as a needs assessment – indicates that workplaces have taken appropriate steps in evaluating and preventing potential occupational exposures," Trout said l

Nanotechnology Policy and Environmental Regulatory Issues

Reproductive Rights Blog: Liquid Condom Introduced in China
Chinese float liquid condom concept | The Register
The Volokh Conspiracy - Regulating Nanosilver:
EPA Region 5: Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
Deciding the Future of Nanotechnologies: Legal Perspectives on ...
Legal Lookout: Nanotechnology : EPA Considers How to Proceed
EUROPA - Rapid - Press Releases
REACH is not enough, new labelling method might be required

Section Nanotechnology Project - Nanotechnology Law - ABA Section of
Environment, Energy, and Resources Law

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Original position and veil of ignorance in Secondlife

Friday, December 15, 2006

Posner had previously told that secondlife looks more like a benign authoritarianism in a way, due to linden's leadership. But if one carefullly examines the moves of liberation organisation such as SLLA (Secondlife's Liberation Army), one can see that there is a magna charta and bill of rights baragaining now in progress. So, that's a hope of future democracy. People even have started to draft a concept for a constitutional court in secondlife (Rube Goldberg's image):

Opinio Jurist made an intriguing post:
And if one wanted to leave Second Life and create a new utopian virtual world, it would be a great place to test John Rawls' idea of a social contract and the original position. Although no one has done it to my knowledge, during the establishment of a new Rawlsian virtual world, each individual could be in a veil of ignorance about their avatar. But what they do know is that they will not get to choose their avatar, because in the Rawlsian virtual world someone else would choose it for them. How should such a world be structured in light of that lack of choice?
But there could be a problem in drafting the basic constitutional text (apart from the terms of use) as Rawlsian veil of ignorance may not apply one hundred per cent. Wealth, race, citizenship and social status are already pre-determined. The basic idea of avatar is exactly in choosing what will we become in the new world, whereas, in real world people cannot choose to be born in certain family, race or nationality. However, there still some uncertainties in secondlife which can be used as Rawls' "veil of ignorance". Non programmers or lazy people could become a second class citizen, therefore, their rights needs to be maximized in accordance with the maximin rule.

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Posner: Eventually there will be an international law of virtual worlds

In his talk in second life, Judge Richard Posner (JRP) said that we might have international law governing the virtual worlds. Here's a cite:

JRP: A currency is legitimate in the usual sense if it is legal tender-- i.e., you can't refuse it as a means of payment. So you can have a legitimate currency within a virtual world, but you could not compel people outside it to accept virtual world dollars in payment for goods or services.

Skadi Nordwind: The corporation still resides in the US.

JRP: Good question, but it arises in ordinary law--accident at sea, etc.--so there is an international law of admiralty. Eventually there will be an international law of virtual worlds.

Wow. This is almost similar to my opinion that we might have Convention on the Law and Jurisdiction Applicable to Virtual Societies in 2040. I would like now to rescind my opinion and resuggest to have it in, at the latest, 2015 (Guess why "2015"...). This is a quote from my original post titled Jurisdiction in online games:
What if there are disagreement between states on its taxation? Well, no other ways but to resolve this in a Treaty. And who knows, maybe as a part of that Treaty, online gaming societies can create their own version of body of law, independent of any state. This way they can refer their dispute to their own rules, interpret agreement in accordance with their own usage and customs, settle their problems at their own virtual court and enforce them with their own cyber police. A truly sui-generis legal community.
Custom, that's the keyword! That custom will evolve into law. I have said that virtual societies are unique as they:
  1. Develop their own customs, usages and traditions
  2. In the future, their "GNP" could be greater than a state
  3. Are in the process of developing their own dispute settlement process
  4. Are developing their own sense of citizenship, rights and obligations
With regards to custom, judge posner said:
JRP: The servers are solid, but not the software. The way law historically develops is from custom. I can imagine customs emerging from interactions among avatars, and then Linden codifying the customs, as laws, that seem best to regulate the virtual world.
What legal reporter usually do is codifying custom into codes. Well, why not start codifying it now? What are the custom enforced among avatars? Let's start codifying it and later we can make the draft convention (in a few years). We can do it through wikis if you want.

The transcript of the talk is available here.

(Hat Tip to Denise Howell)

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Search nano patents with google!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Good news for patent lawyers, you can now search available patents using google. Look what I found when entering the term "nano": 848 results. Not bad.

Method of fabricating nano-tube, method of manufacturing field-emission type cold cathode, and method of manufacturing display device
US Pat. 6780075 - Filed December 22, 2000 - NEC Corporation
the carbon nano-tube through the entire surface of the emitter. Also, in an
ordinary ion implantation, in case radiation has been performed until the carbon ...

Method of manufacturing nano-gap electrode
US Pat. 7056446 - Filed September 16, 2003 - Communications Research Laboratory, Independent Administrative Institution
35 Generally, in order to manufacture nano-gap electrodes, electron beam lithography ... Thus, when a nano-gap electrode is made using the FIB lithography, ...

US Pat. 7125536 - Filed February 6, 2004 - Millennium Inorganic Chemicals
More particularly, the present invention is directed to nano-structured metal-oxide
... 35 40 In one embodiment, the present invention provides nano- 50 ...

Process for preparing nano-porous metal oxide semiconductor layers
US Pat. 6929970 - Filed September 11, 2003 - Agfa-Gevaert
6 at a temperature of 100 to 200° C. According to a thirteenth Spectral Sensitization
of Nano-porous Metal Oxide embodiment of the process, according to the ...

Crystalline polymer nano-particles
US Pat. 6689469 - Filed December 31, 2001 - Bridgestone Corporation
The com-position includes polymer nano-particles having a poly ( ... The nano-particles preferably have a mean average diameter of less than about 100 nm. ...

Nano-scaled graphene plates
US Pat. 7071258 - Filed October 21, 2002 - Nanotek Instruments, Inc.
(54) NANO-SCALED GRAPHENE PLATES (75) Inventors: Bor Z. Jang, Fargo, ...
The process for producing nano-scaled graphene plate material comprises the steps ...

Polyolefin nano-composite
US Pat. 6872791 - Filed December 22, 2001 - Samsung Atofina Co. Ltd.
2 POLYOLEFIN NANO-COMPOSITE a catalyst system comprising () a supported catalyst consisting of (at a polymer, (b) a silicate clay mineral, ...

Semiconductor nano-rod devices
US Pat. 6855606 - Filed February 20, 2003 - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. In one aspect, the present invention relates to a method of forming a nano-rod structure for a channel of a field effect transistor. ...

Method for production of nano-porous coatings
US Pat. 6465052 - Filed November 30, 2001 - Nanotek Instruments, Inc.
The term "nano-porous solid" means a solid that contains essentially ...

Nano-porous silica films also can be prepared using a mixture of a solvent and a ...
Composition for preparing substances having nano-pores
US Pat. 6632748 - Filed September 25, 2001 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a composition for preparing substances having nano-pores. More specifically, the present ...

Try the search yourself here.

Click on the labels to see previous discussion on patents and other intellectual property issues.

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Environmental, Health and Safety Policy Recommendation

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

ICF International, a consulting services company for technology solutions in the energy, environment, transportation, social programs, defense, and homeland security markets had released its recommendation on Environmental, Health and Safety Policy recommendation for the US Government, in a 36 page document.

One thing I like from the document is the way it explains and analyse inter-departemental competence in US Government in handling Nanotechnology's Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) issues. On the other hand, I am quite pessimistic that this report can encompass all of Nanotech's EHS issue.

The Reason? They focus mainly on the toxicity of nanomaterials (See: Part I, Framing the issue). The whole set of assumption which forms the rest of the report is based on this. It is not that this issue is not important, it is important and it reflects the most "current" nanotech EHS issue. However, it may not be that current in one or two years. Thus, I don't think that the rest of the recommendation can cover Nanotech EHS issue, other than the relationship between nanomaterials to human and the environment.

EHS issue on the second and third generation nanotechnology which covers active nanostructure will also need to be addressed. So far, I have not discover any research focusing on this.

You can download ICF International report here.

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Lawyers, update your nano vocabulary!

Monday, December 11, 2006

My previous posts had discussed various definitions of nanotechnology in order for us to exercise more prudency before drafting a contract. We shall avoid categorizing non nano products into "nano", although the barriers are not clear enough. Aerosol for example may be less than 10 nm but they may not qualified as an "engineered nanoparticle".

However, contracts related to existing nanotechnology may not contain the word "nanotechnology" at all. Our client can be either a producer of nanocrystal or nanowire or nanocomposite or nanorob or nanotube or nanoribbon or nanofibre, all that is too specific to be categorized simply as nanotechnology. So, how are we going to distinguish between one nano and the other nano?

Some institutions has been developing a standard nomenclature for nanomaterials:
Last month at the ACS national meeting in San Diego, Vicki Colvin, director of the Center for Biological & Environmental Nanotechnology and chemistry professor at Rice University, told a standing-room-only crowd about a project she’s spearheaded to create a dictionary for the nanoscale. Colvin hopes that by developing standard terminology for nanomaterials, she and her colleagues will be able to create a common language that helps scientists and nonscientists alike.
So, go and update your vocabs! The British Standard nano-nomenclatures is available for a free download here (as of 11/12/06).

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Unwise Nanotechnology Regulation

Neil Lane's statement is compelling:

"In my view, given what's at stake, this situation is unacceptable. I fear that nanotechnology may be heading for a fall. A major environmental, medical or safety problem -- real or bogus -- with a product or application that's labeled 'nanotechnology' -- whether it actually is nanotechnology or not -- could dampen public confidence and financial investment in nanotechnology's future, and could even lead to unwise regulation. We should not let this happen," stated Dr. Lane.

As stated by NSF, Nanotechnology development will occur in these stages:

1st Generation: Passive nanostructures

2nd Generation: Active nanostructures
3rd Generation: Systems of nanosystems
4th Generation: Molecular nanosystems

Each generation of nanotechnology will bring different effects and entails different risks. First generation Nanotech will carry environmental risks. The question is always about nanotoxicity. It will therefore require (i) sufficient testing methods and (ii) development of (iii) pre-market testing for health and environmental impact, (iv) life cycle assessment (v) methods for reducing exposure.

Coping method: Reform and adaptation of environmental and health laws

Second and third generation nanotech carries a different risk in the form of system instabilities: "your biosensors is malfunction", "the nanodynamo isn't working", "how come my drug is directly excreted out of body"?

Coping method: Consumer law oriented. Reform on product liability/service liability rules.

The last generation of nanotechnology -- molecular manufacturing -- will be the most complicated and bring enermous affect. First generation oriented legislations will be absolutely obsolete. Some second generation laws can probably inspire the fourth generation nanotechnology regulation, but gaps are unavoidable. CRN is the only organisation that focuses specifically on fourth generation nanotechnologies. All of these risks must be dealt from now on as even early studies on the fourth generation nanotechnology may not be sufficient to mitigate the risk.

Possible coping method: (i) Informational law oriented, major overhaul on information
management laws. (ii) Application of legal futurism studies

(Many Thanks to: Mike Treder/CRN)

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When nano turns washing machine into pesticide

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The EPA's nanosilver regulation still attracts me, as it reflects how a regulation that was initially intended to regulate pesticide can now be extended into device such as the samsung washing machine. As we have previously discussed, the EPA is investigating if the silver ions released by nanosilver appliances can kill friendly bacterias and harm human.

There has been news and post suggesting that the background of the regulation is unfounded since:
  1. People has been using silver appliances for ages (Yeah, for sure. But the problem with nanotoxicity is that, the behaviours and characteristics of nanoparticle of silver is different than its bulk form, right? Or is it the case that the old ages silver are already "nano" in essence?)
  2. The effect of silver in drinking water is cosmetic. (Does that apply to common silver or nanosilver?)
  3. Nanosilver ions bonds with chlorine and are inert.
  4. Other pharmaceutical that kills germs are flushed out of toilet every year, but they are not subjected to regulation
  5. There are so many nanomaterials out there, but why only regulate silver?
  6. Alternative anti-microbe such as Triclosan, which may be contained in Microban products is not regulated.
To Howard Lovy, nanosilver nay not be nanotech at all, it is simply "...nanoscale stuff being sprinkled into products". If we talk about jurisdiction, the EPA does have all the power to regulate anything that kills germs as "pesticide". The FIFRA seemed to take account only towards its effect. Whatever it is outside medicines, if it kills germs, its pesticide. The problem is, which one is more dangerous to the environment, triclosan from my toothpaste or some nanosilver coating?

Seeing the EPA revoked its previous decision, it is likely that they are of the opinion that the ions released by the nanosilver washing machines pose a threat to the environment and will therefore require a pesticide registration.

The moral message of the case:
  1. Effect-focus regulation can incorporate as many as nanotech product it deems necessary, so long as the effect is triggered (e.g. the effect is killing germs). The pros: broader preventive measure. The cons: overbroad interpretation, can include anything. On the other hand, some effect focused regulation constructed in bulk-scale chemicals paradigm (Referenced Dose, parts per million, etc) may be useless for nanotech.
  2. Interrelated and overlapped regulation may occur due to nanotech inventions. If today a washing machine is a pesticide, maybe some kind of lamps would be drugs tomorrow.
  3. Process-focused regulation is more precise, but not much can be constructed due to lack of nanotoxicology data.
  4. What you regulate today maybe obsolete in a few years. The tech progressed too fast, beyond our current capacity to legislate.

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Nanosilver under FIFRA

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The first time EPA said it will regulate Nanosilver, I thought it was going to be regulated in a specific legislation, independently of pesticide. Well, it didn't. All products containing nanoparticle of silver is to be regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

FIFRA defines "active ingridient" as (§ 136. Definitions):
(1) in the case of a pesticide other than a plant regulator, defoliant, desiccant, or nitrogen stabilizer, an ingredient which will prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest;
(2) in the case of a plant regulator, an ingredient which, through physiological action, will accelerate or retard the rate of growth or rate of maturation or otherwise alter the behavior of ornamental or crop plants or the product thereof;
(3) in the case of a defoliant, an ingredient which will cause the leaves or foliage to drop from a plant;
(4) in the case of a desiccant, an ingredient which will artificially accelerate the drying of plant tissue; and
(5) in the case of a nitrogen stabilizer, an ingredient which will prevent or hinder the process of nitrification, denitrification, ammonia volatilization, or urease production through action affecting soil bacteria.

applies to all types of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and antimicrobials. Some minimum risk pesticides (green pesticides included) are exempted.

Thus, EPA Regulation can have a wide scope of various indoor use consumer goods and products used in health care. Antimicrobial pesticides are defined as "substances or mixtures of substances used to destroy or limit the growth of microorganisms, whether bacteria, viruses, or fungi -- many of which are harmful-on inanimate objects and surfaces". So, anyone that claims that its product can kill germs, they are subjected to inspection. It is to be noted that EPA's regulation on antimicrobes differs slightly from general pesticide regulation, in that it obligates special efficacy test.

Anti decay coatings may be exempted as a "treated article":
An article or a substance treated with or containing a pesticide to protect the article or substance itself (for example, paint treated with a pesticide to protect the paint coating, or wood products treated to protect the wood against insects or fungus infestation), if the pesticide is registered for such use.
(Note the "registered for such use" condition). However, if they claim to kill E.coli, S.aureus, Salmonella sp. or Streptococcus sp. they must be registered as a pesticide as "it make a public health claim that goes beyond the preservation of the treated article itself". This means that some deodorant/absorpent might be required to register themselves under FIFRA. Those used for human and animal (antibiotics) may not be regulated under FIFRA but are subjected to FDA review.

Some of nanosilver products (such as the Samsung Washing Machine) are actually used for coating. Some other however are clear anti-microbes. Nanosilver has been presumed to be able to kill viruses such as HIV and Avian Flu and is currently under intensive research.

If used as merely as coating, Nanosilver may enjoy exemption. However, if producer claims that the coating kill germs (such as used in advertisement of washing machines) then they are subjected to review. If used as drugs, then it is the FDA's jurisdiction. The EU has yet to regulate nanosilver, but you can always checkout the EU's pesticide homepage here.

Nano-silver has been used in a wide range of product, either as coating or as anti-microbes, as used in
liquid condoms, soaps, dishwashing liquid. Some of these "food and drug" type nanosilver product has been manufactured in China and Korea. I think they might have difficulty if produced in USA. You can see them here.

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Behind the nanosilver regulation

Scott E. Rickert wrote an article explaining the background of EPA's nanosilver regulation:
Various U.S water authorities became concerned that discharged nanosilver might accumulate in the water system, particularly in wastewater treatment plants where beneficial bacteria are used to purify water of its toxins. This opinion means that nanosilver could be viewed as an environmental pesticide, requiring the product to be registered and tested under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. In the words of EPA spokesperson Jennifer Wood, "The release of silver ions in the washing machines is a pesticide, because it is a substance released into the laundry for the purpose of killing pests.
Further, he argued that a heavy regulation may impede research and development. This is not good as current nanotech products as used in solar cells would certainly be beneficial to the environment. Let's not forget its application in biosensors: early cancer detection.

We do need a balanced regulation.

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Computer as a legal subject

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Martine Rothblatt made a very exciting presentation which you can watch here. She argued that future computers might have its own consciousness and therefore must be granted rights equivalent to those enjoyed by natural persons (e.g. the right to vote, the right to be voted, the right to property, etc).

One of her main argument is that, the more closer something to human, the more rights they get. I agree, plants have no right from not being injured, apes does. It is to be noted however that while it is true that the degree of rights accumulates the more something is closer to human, obligations do not. Obligation is the monopoly of the conscious. There is no gradation with regards to obligations.

Climbing into the ruling class, asking for equalities and emancipating is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes a revolution, magna charta, bill of rights, bastille day, battle of gettysburg. I've been thinking that the process toward granting computer a legal subject may be like releasing nations from collonialisation and tribes from apartheid or at least like granting women the right to vote. Are you ready to elect a computer as your president and supreme court judges?

There are more questions to ask. What are the boundaries between consciouss and non-consciouss computers? What kind of legal pluralism applies in the future society where the two kind of consciousness coexist? Suggesting ourselves as the sole "being" would be a consciousness-chauvinism. It is a good thing that we start talking about this from now. Let's hope that there will be no "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in the future.

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Jurisdiction in online game

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

"When disputes arise over in-world fraud or avatars attacking avatars, for example, what law should prevail?" That was the question asked by Wired in its interesting article about the Terra Nova Symposium.
To Greg Lastowka, a panelist and assistant professor of law at Rutgers School of Law, the virtual-world governance landscape boils down to two categories: internal and external views of governance. "The ultimate governance of virtual worlds is the state," Lastowka said. "The law doesn't treat virtual worlds as any different. The state is not going to accept" virtual worlds being treated as autonomous regions."
Although similarly transboundary, online game is "beyond" international and transnational law. Here's the reason why shutting off the computer and surrender the case to a state may not be enough:
  1. They develop their own customs, usages and traditions
  2. In the future, their "GNP" could be greater than a state
  3. They are in the process of developing their own dispute settlement process
  4. They are developing their own sense of citizenship, rights and obligations
What if there are disagreement between states on its taxation? Well, no other ways but to resolve this in a Treaty. And who knows, maybe as a part of that Treaty, online gaming societies can create their own version of body of law, independent of any state. This way they can refer their dispute to their own rules, interpret agreement in accordance with their own usage and customs, settle their problems at their own virtual court and enforce them with their own cyber police. A truly sui-generis legal community.

It's a no joke. Howbout a Convention on the Law and Jurisdiction Applicable to Virtual Societies for 2040? ;)

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Carbon Nanotube, Nanocrystal, Nanowires

This you tube video explains the functions of Carbon Nanotubes in a very simple way:

A Google Tech Talk video elaborating the latest usage of nanotech: nanowire to detect cancer marker antigen (biosensors) and nanocrystal polymers (photovoltaic cells):

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REACH is not enough, new labelling method might be required

Monday, December 4, 2006

Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly-Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is one of the three independent scientific committes managed by the EU's directorate general of health and consumer protection. Its task is in giving considerations and insights into "where amendments are needed to procedures for assessing risk of the products of nanotechnologies, and identifies areas where major gaps in knowledge exist."

The EU Comission launched a public consultation in December 2005 and published its recommendations based on the consultation:

With regards to Hazard Evaluation, "The SCENIHR opinion highlights that the paradigm for nanotoxicology does not exist and there is a need for a case-by-case assessment of environmental and health impacts of nanotechnology products" and consider it beneficial to "bench mark studies, including reference materials with very well understood toxicology in man, such as quartz and asbestos."

In its report, it acknowledges that "Due to the lack of available data on the risk characterisation of different nanoparticle-based products, no generic conclusions are possible at this stage.
Consequently, each product and process that involves nanoparticles must be considered

The SCENIHR listed a few type of risks associated with certain circumstances:
  • Worker safety during the manufacture of nanoparticles.
  • Safety of consumers using products that contain nanoparticles.
  • Safety of local populations due to chronic or acute release of nanoparticles from manufacturing and /or processing facilities.
  • The impact on the various environmental compartments per se resulting from production, formulation and use, and on the potential for human re-exposure through the environment.
  • The environmental and human health risks involved in the disposal or recycling of nanoparticle dependant products.
These characterisation by the SCENIHR reflects the possibility of regulating nanotechnology in each economic chains, from production, to consumption, to dumping, to the re-usage. If this is adopted, then the future EU regulation will comprise of a process-focus regulation, product-focused regulation and sectoral regulations.

The SCENIHR also suggest a precautionary approach with respect to "nanoparticles which are likely to be highly biopersistent in humans and/or in environmental species." It also stresses that "there is no reliable information on the effect of the simultaneous exposure to multiple forms of nanoparticles, where it would be appropriate to assume the effects are additive, or on the interaction between nanoparticles and other stressors (either physical, chemical or biological), which should be considered on a case-by-case basis."

Nanoparticle as stressor is particularly important as it means that a hazardous effect may not be resulted not from the nanoparticle itself but due to its surroundings. This means that each producer of nanoproduct will have the obligation to dilligently provide information on how consumer should treat their product. Possible allergic reaction should also be provided and this may not be an easy task. In my opinion, this will carry several legal consequences:
  1. There has to be a regulation on the storage and transportation of nanoproducts which contain hazardous nanoparticle
  2. Some nanoproducts shall not be sold for free
  3. Producer can be exempted from liability if they can prove that they have provided adequate information on how a product should be treated
It is interesting to note that the SCENIHR regards the current REACH proposal may be inadequate:
The regulation of products containing nanoparticles based on tonnage, as proposed for existing chemicals under REACH, needs to be considered further because there are many more nanoparticles to the tonne than is the case for larger particles, and their behaviour in the body and in the environment may be different. If the nanoparticle form of a chemical does have distinctly different properties in biological systems from other physical forms of the same chemical, it will be necessary to readily identify the nanoparticle form of each chemical for the purposes of hazard warning labels etc. One approach to ensure that the effects of the nanoparticle form of a chemical is properly assessed would be to have a unique identification for it, either assigning different CAS numbers to the nanoparticle form, or adding a code (CAS-NP50) to existing CAS numbers leaving the CAS number for identifying similar chemical compounds . It is also inappropriate to assume that current workplace exposure standards for dusts can be applied directly to the nanoparticle form of the dust component. New standards will therefore need to be considered. Similarly, classification and labelling for human health and the environment may need to be reconsidered.
This point is especially important. This suggest that nanoproduct shall not and cannot be treated as chemicals, because their properties are different from chemical bulk. A legal consequences of this is that, producers cannot rely merely on REACH in conducting their safety standard as their duty to care with regards to nanoproduct is different than those established under the REACH. Another important thing is: there is going to be another classification/labelling method for nanoparticles that is different from normal chemical classifications.

You can download the complete report here, and the summary here.

Email me for suggestions, or leave a comment.

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EU-US regulatory gap?

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Recent WTO panel ruled out that the GMO moratorium conducted by the EU is illegal. The panel stated that EC safeguard measures "were not based on risk assessments satisfying the definition of the SPS Agreement and hence could be presumed to be maintained without sufficient scientific evidence." This is what the european commission said about the GMO case:
The US appears not to like the EU authorisation regime, which it considers to be too stringent, simply becaue it takes longer to approve a GMO in Europe than in the US. The US appears to believe that GMOs that are considered to be safe in the US should be de facto deemed to be safe for the rest of the world. The EU has argued that a sovereign body like the EU and its Member States, or indeed any country in the world, has the right to enact its own regulations on the food that its citizens would eat, providing that the measures are compatible with existing international rules and based on clear scientific evidence.The US also opposes GMO traceability rules because it considers that they constitute an obstacle to US commodity exports, despite the fact that US traders can in fact meet those requirements without difficulties. The US is also adamantly opposed to labelling rules for food products produced from GMOs, even though these rules are designed to help ensure that customers are well-informed about what they are buying.
This case is a lesson for future nanotech regulation. Thus, it would be important to consider (i) how stringent the regulations would be (ii) what examination standard to be used, (iii) how labelling are to be applied.

My previous post indicates that most people in Germany wants labelling, especially when it comes to the utilisation of nano in food industry. There will be a problem when the US impose lower labelling standard compared to EU, or vice versa.

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Consumer demand labelling

That was the result of a Conference held by the German's Federal Institute of Risk Assessement:
Our experience shows that an event of this kind is well suited to involving consumers in the scientific debate about the assessment of new technologies. When making their judgement, consumers took a very differentiated look at the potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology based on knowledge of the latest research and the existing uncertainty.
According to the conference, consumers were especially critical of the use of nanomaterials in foods.

With regards to the weighing between risk and benefit, consumer tends to put more weight on the risk nanotech brings, in comparison to its benefits:
Consumers felt that the promised advantages to be derived from using nanotechnology like changes to the flow properties of ketchup or the trickling properties of products were non-essential given the potential risks.

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European Nanotechnology Law?

Friday, December 1, 2006

A few days ago the European Parliament issued an action plan on Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies. This action plan is not legally binding and is deemed simply as a declaration of intention in regulating nanotechnology further. In general, there is nothing special under the action plan as it only stresses on the importance of research and impact assessments. There are, however, some paragraphs that reflects the position of the European Union with regards to nanoscience and nanotechnologies.

For example, the action plan:
  • Recommends that lists of ingredients in consumer products identify the addition of manufactured nanoparticulate material;
  • Regrets the fact that the patenting of nanoscience and nanotechnology inventions in Europe is developing slowly; calls on the EU to create a nanoscience and nanotechnology patent monitoring system governed by the European Patent Office;
  • Encourages general reforms in the field of the European patent system in order to cut the costs of patenting and to improve accessibility to patents for SMEs; stresses the need for greater transparency and clear limits to the scope of patent protection;
  • Emphasises the need to respect high ethical principles and welcomes the planned reviews on issues such as non-therapeutic human enhancement and links between nanosciences and nanotechnologies and individual privacy; expects the reviews to be public and to include a thorough analysis of nanomedicine;
The above points suggests the EU position toward labelling and patent reform. The last point on human enhancement is especially important and this shows EU's high awareness on the interconnectedness between human enhancement and nanotechnologies. You can compare it with UNESCO's view on human enhancement here.

Currently, the status of european nanotechnology regulation is more or less equal to the US': There are no specific law regulating it. It is questionable whether existing regulations in the field of environmental (such as the REACH proposal), health, workplace and food and drugs can directly apply to nanotechnology, due to differences of characters. There are suggestions to put nanotechnology under the REACH proposal but there are also worries that it may not be able to cover "finished product" such as a transistor.

Nevertheless, there are general environmental regulations under EU auspices which applies to every risky activities, including nanotechnologies. The factories, laboratories and storing facilities of nanoproducts could be subjected to environmental impact assessment directive 85/337/EEC, or IPPC Directive 96/61/EC. Nevertheless, this is NOT without difficulties. Nanotechnology projects are not listed in the mandatory impact assessment list under the EU impact assessment directive (see Annex II), so states may exempt them from impact assessment obligation, by relying solely on the directive . Lack of effects data will also prevent stakeholders from conducting assessments.

The case with the IPPC directive is similar. The IPPC deals with limiting the amount of "emission" of pollutants, which is irrelevant with regards to nanoparticles. It has been mentioned in several researches that it is the size, surface structure, solubility and shape of the nanomaterials that contributes to its toxicity, and not the amount/weight.

Last but not least, although nanotech is not specifically regulated, there are general principles of EU Law that will safeguard public health and the environment. The EU is known to be a strict adherent of precautionary principle, so recklessness with regards to the production or research of nanomaterials will arise liability. There could be special cases where nanotech is categorized under strict liability, for example in its connection with military uses. There is yet an established due dilligence rule with regard to nanotechnology, but to avoid law suit, it could be safer to refer to the emerging "best practices" and to the formal position of the EU as reflected on its action plans, communications or existing directives and regulations.

(Hat Tip to Nanologue and Prof Geert van Calster!)

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Secondlife's copybot, nanofactory and the future model of constitution

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The economic downfall of a system can be caused by a machine that can copy everything. That is the lesson we get from online game, secondlife. And the remedy? Sue the software developer under DMCA. I consider that to be a bad option, and I will tell you why.

Secondlife's Constitution (read: Terms of Service) regulates:

3.2 You retain copyright and other intellectual property rights with respect to Content you create in Second Life, to the extent that you have such rights under applicable law. However, you must make certain representations and warranties, and provide certain license rights, forbearances and indemnification, to Linden Lab and to other users of Second Life.

Users of the Service can create Content on Linden Lab's servers in various forms. Linden Lab acknowledges and agrees that, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, you will retain any and all applicable copyright and other intellectual property rights with respect to any Content you create using the Service, to the extent you have such rights under applicable law.

This was a post at the official secondlife blog:
Today I met with a large group of Residents, members of the Sellers Guild, to talk about the implications of a recently-developed LibSL product called CopyBot. CopyBot allows the user to create a replication of an object, including textures, that is fully permissive. Needless to say this product has caused tremendous worry among content creators who want to understand how its use may possibly affect their business. In particular, they are concerned about theft of their creations, and the potential for unscrupulous people to undercut their prices and essentially take away their business...
Merely copying something doesn’t mean that a copyright violation has occurred. The law discusses ‘fair use’, for example, as one type of copying that is not a violation. If you DO think someone has copied something you made and is violating your copyright by profiting from the copying then you do have the option of using the DMCA process to file a complaint.
I have not hear any case where online game disputes are brought to a court, and the decision is enforced. In my last blog post, I refer to a story in which the court decide not to enforce an oral agreement pertaining the sale and purchase of a virtual sword. However, if brought to a court, the current copybot case is slightly different to the case I mentioned earlier, as it deals with copyright, something that is adhered in a real world.

Copybot is a software provided by Libsecondlife. Its purpose is altruistic, the program itself is open-sourced. Libsecondlife applies disclaimer which exempts liabilities from the utilization of its software. Although Libsecondlife does not directly infringe copyright, it could still be held liable under contributory infringement. Contributory infringement is a form of direct infringement in which, a party is aware that (1) there is an infringing activity, (2) it provides assistance or inducement for the infringement. Contributory infringement usually occurs when a party uploads serial numbers or providing a website to upload/download unauthorized serial numbers.

However, this may not be exactly the case with Libsecondlife as they only provide a hack software to be used outside the game itself, via a third party channel. The only problem is that, players are using the software in an infringing manner. So, although Libsecondlife is acquittable to contributory infringement, the case is "thin".

Nanotech expert has been calling the falling down phenomenon of a system due to the birth of abundancy as "disruptive abundance". It is feared that when nanofactory is available for free, then the existing system could collapse. Some experts has suggested to apply artificial scarcity in order to prevent the disruption. This is created either by restricting the ownership of nanofactory or providing technical restrictions to productions.

The fundamental difference between secondlife and future application of MNT is of course, in second life, disputed parties can log off their computer, get back to the real world and settle their dispute in a court. In the future MNT society, there is no way to log off.
Now, how are we going to settle our dispute? The only way of settling the dispute is by referring to our own rules of the game, the Constitution of the post-MNT society. What would the constitution look like? I don't know.

It would be great if parties in the second life disputes settle their case out of court, inside their own virtual world. We shall see, would they be able to settle their own problem or not? Can they use their rationality and refer the case to their own Constitution (read: Terms of Service)? I would suggest that they form their own internal dispute settlement mechanisms. I want to know how it work, as the results can be used to model the legal system of the future societies. If Secondlife citizens fail to solve their dispute and would need a court settlement, then it would be depiction of our future society: we will fail in settling our dispute and would require some extra terrestrial help (which of course, will never arrive).

When arguing about the existence of a law in international relation, Hugo Grotius said in latin: ibi societas, ubi ius. When there is society, there is law. When there is international society, there is an international law. When there is a virtual society, there has to be a "virtual" law.

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Should online gaming be prohibited?

Friday, November 24, 2006

There is a good comment in this blog a few days ago, which responds to my post on the story of a gamer who killed his friend over a virtual sword. The commentator said:
Surely the whole point of the news story is that you must claim the enforcement of virtual items in the interests of public order. If the swords value had been enforced a man wouldn't have died. Surely the whole reason for the law is to settle disputes of exactly this nature.
The law might evolve into this direction. However, it may also evolve to the opposite direction: online games can be prohibited for the reason of public ordre.

Consider an actual case involving computer game in Germany:

A long-simmering debate in Germany about banning violent computer games is burning again after an aloof teenager on Monday stormed his former high school, shot five people and later killed himself. The disgruntled 18-year-old ex-pupil from Emsdetten, Germany, near the Dutch border, was described by students and teachers as a youth with no friends who liked guns and played violent computer shooting games.

Wiefelsp├╝tz isn't alone in the SPD. A majority of members in his party have been lobbying for months for major changes in federal laws aimed at protecting minors, including an outright ban on violent computer games. And the opposition parties Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) agree that changes are necessary to the current laws governing entertainment software. Following the shoot-out in Erfurt, the German government revised its legislation on protecting minors, requiring, for instance, that all computer games and video movies be subject to a mandatory age-rating plan.

There could be a case where online games are prohibited, through blocking software. The EU e-commerce directive exempts ISP from intermediary liabilities. However, it must response to a court or authority's order to secure, prevent or terminate illegal content on its server.

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EPA's first nanoproduct-focused regulation

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The press and the blogosphere have been echoing EPA's new nanoproduct-focused regulation. Yes, EPA has decided to "regulate" silver nanoparticles used in various consumer products such as high-tech odor-destroying shoe liners, food-storage containers and air fresheners. The silver nanomaterials are used to kill germs. However, there are worries that they will harm beneficial bacterias:
Until now, new products made with tiny germ-fighting particles of silver did not have to pass muster with regulators. That has concerned environmentalists and others who think that the growing amount of nanosilver washed down drains may be killing beneficial bacteria and aquatic organisms and may also pose risks to human health.
Companies using silver nanoproducts will have to prove to the EPA that their product is safe. According to WP:
Under the new determination, first reported on Tuesday by the Daily Environment Report, a Washington publication, and confirmed yesterday by the EPA, any company wishing to sell a product that it claims will kill germs by the release of nanotech silver or related technology will first have to provide scientific evidence that the product does not pose an environmental risk. "We will be able to evaluate them and ensure that these products are not going to do damage to the aquatic environment," said Jim Jones, director of the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.
I have not really seen the so-called "regulation" so I am not able to give my analysis here. However, there are several questions that can be asked:
  1. What will happen to products already on the market? Does this apply retroactively? Do they need to be suspended pending the scientific findings?
  2. Does this mean that it shifts the burden of proof from EPA to producers? Supposed EPA declared that a product is OK, but then someday something happens to the product (i.e. it turn out to be harmful for the environment) to what extent would the producer be liable for the product, either under environmental, health or consumer law?
  3. Since it deals with nanosilver, is it OK to cover similar products in a single exam? Scientific assessment may raise the burden of cost for the industry, if there is a product that is more or less similar, it could be economical to cover them in one assessment, rather than doing multiple assessment. To what extent will this be regulated?
  4. What are the relationship between this regulation and other regimes?

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How the Nanotech Industry Practice Safety

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Are you in the nanotech industry? Are you a lawyer doing compliance review for your nanotech clients? You both know that there is no hard-and-fast rule on how safety has to be practiced, yet. But, there is always a risk for a lawsuit.

International Council on Nanotechnology at the Rice University has completed a Survey of Safety Practices in the Nanotech Industry. It surveys around 20 organizations dealing with Nanotech and summarized its findings. The result is downloadable here.

(H.T. to Kristen Kulinowski)

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Nanotech the IP issues

Monday, November 20, 2006

I just realized that wikipedia just renewed its entry on nanotech, especially in its Intellectual Property part:
On the structural level, critics of nanotechnology point to a new world of ownership and corporate control opened up by nanotechnology. The claim is that, just as biotechnology's ability to manipulate genes went hand in hand with the patenting of life, so too nanotechnology's ability to manipulate molecules has led to the patenting of matter. The last few years has seen a gold rush to claim patents at the nanoscale. Over 800 nano-related patents were granted in 2003, and the numbers are increasing year to year. Corporations are already taking out broad-ranging patents on nanoscale discoveries and inventions. For example, two corporations, NEC and IBM, hold the basic patents on carbon nanotubes, one of the current cornerstones of nanotechnology. Carbon nanotubes have a wide range of uses, and look set to become crucial to several industries from electronics and computers, to strengthened materials to drug delivery and diagnostics. Carbon nanotubes are poised to become a major traded commodity with the potential to replace major conventional raw materials.
We have had discussions on these matters on the past (which you can view by clicking the labels below). There are also some explanations on these matters on the net. For example, a paper from Lawrence Letham which highlights general legal issues relating to nanotech, a general IP trend on nanotech from Chemical and Engineering magazine, Nanotech patent application in Japan from D. Kanama, Nanotech patent trends by Kallinger, Patent Trend survey from Foley Lardner and US Patent Reform for Nanotech from WLF.

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Israeli's nano weapon plan

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A new development in Unrestricted Warfare: the use of BionicHornet. Bionic Hornet is a kind of smart(er) UAV. CRN Blog hosted this discussion months ago. Here's a taste on what the press told us bout this so called "Bionic Hornet":


Israel is using nanotechnology in a bid to create a robot, almost of a size of a hornet (a kind of wasp), which would have the ability to chase, photograph and kill its targets. An Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Friday that the robot, which is nicknamed the "bionic hornet", is made in such a way that it can travel down narrow alleyways to target small and unreachable enemies such as rocket launchers.

Of all those news bout Israeli's nano weapon plan, this one interest me most:
The report in the mass circulation daily Yedhiot Ahronot said that the emerging technology would allow weapons, based on "building blocks" the size of a millionth of a millimetre, and of the sort that "one sees today only in science fiction films."
Has the reporter mis-quoted or, is that guy actually talking about nanoblocks?


The "bionic hornet," writes Israel's daily Yedioth Ahronoth, could chase, photograph and kill, say, a terrorist hiding with a rocket launcher in a civilian neighborhood -- as an alternative to bombing the neighborhood. "The war in Lebanon proved that we need smaller weaponry," said Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres. "It's illogical to send a plane worth $100 million against a suicidal terrorist. So we are building futuristic weapons."

Dont get happy too quickly Mr. Peres. Maybe in the future there won't be any more suicide bombers. It's illogical to send suicide bombers if they can send cheap Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to spread germs, drop grenades or hit a plane! War is cheaper and easier, for everyone...!