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Made in space - can you get patent protection?

If someone said, "We are looking at manufacturing our products in space", you might think, "Why bother?" Well, it it is becoming clear that there are more and more products which either cannot be made on earth, or are significantly better if made in space. The Times' article mentions a type of fibre-optic cable which falls within this category - and there are reports that the space-made version's performance is up to 30 times better than an equivalent made on earth. With performance improvements like this, the attraction of space manufacturing is obvious.

Patents are territorial rights, normally restricting protection to the territory in which the patent has been granted. However, there are rules which extend patent protection into space, but they are somewhat complex. My colleague Louise Mansion's article published here provides guidance on this thorny issue.

For most it won’t make sense. But there are certain materials “which if you did make them in space, the performance improvements would be so profound, inserting those things into earthbound industry would enable significant benefits in our daily lives. In a decade, I think all of us will interact with something made in space.”


transport, patents