Scientists at The University of Manchester have ‘re-discovered’ a material, which could make the construction of 2D van der Waals heterostructures easier to build.
You cannot patent graphene as it's a naturally occurring material – carbon. Many organisations however, have patented graphene devices and processes.
Patents are important stepping stones which help the University take inventions from the campus to the market-place, which in turn generates credit for the University in both reputational and monetary terms.
The UK is often criticised for falling behind competitors in terms of number of patents filed. There are many thousands of patents relating to graphene. Many of these may are unlikely to become reality.
Intellectual property at the University is managed by UMI³, which stands for 'inspire, invent and innovate'.
Quality not quantity
The University of Manchester believes academic partnership with industry and a collaborative approach to research and development is a more logical approach to exploit graphene's superlative properties and realise its commercial prospects.
Patenting isn't just a numbers game it's about quality not quantity.
Innovation is about much more than patents. As a rule of thumb, one should apply for a patent only if there is a clear route to a commercial product. Even then, there are many ways to fail - but at least the patent will not serve as an expensive memorial to your vanity.
Sir Andre Geim
Financial Times article: Patents merely satisfy a professor's pride by Andre Geim.