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Nanotechnology’s greatest strength also raises its largest concern: the unexpected and novel properties that materials gain when they are produced at nanoscale dimensions. As nanoscale materials become increasingly vital to new production and manufacturing technologies, medical treatments, energy production and environmental remediation, they have also raised hosts of new legal challenges. Producers and users of nanotechnology must navigate legal hurdles arising from intellectual property protection, environmental permitting and disclosure, workplace safety, proper handling and disposal instructions for consumers, and end-of-life management.

Bracewell advises clients on a variety of nanotechnology issues, including:

  • registration of nanoscale materials under the Toxic Substances Control Act
  • federal and state environmental permitting requirements for production of nanoscale silver and carbon nanotubes
  • potential toxic tort liability arising from improper disposal of nanoscale metals
  • intellectual property issues arising from the production of carbon nanotubes by defense contractors for military use
  • laboratory safety requirements
  • customer warning responsibilities

Our attorneys have served on leading groups setting standards for the safe use and disposal of nanomaterials (including ANSI, ASTM, and the International Council on Nanotechnology), and we have briefed key government policymakers on environmental issues arising from the production, use and disposal of nanomaterials. Our Senior Counsel Tracy Hester, who is a professor at the University of Houston Law Center and the Director of UHLC's Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Center, has helped lead efforts to assess how existing environmental law will apply to new nanoscale materials, and he is the co-author of the Environmental Law Institute's Nanotechnology Deskbook. In recognition of Bracewell’s work in this field, Nanotechnology Times named Bracewell as one of the top law firms in the United States for nanotechnology.