When I wrote about the growing number of nanotechnology-related lawsuits yesterday, I didn't mention Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY ) -- a publicly traded venture capital firm specializing in nanotech-related investments. But it's worth a closer look, since its diverse investments give the firm a stake in an increasing number of potentially valuable patents.
On Tuesday, Nanosys, a private nanotechnology company in which Harris & Harris has an equity stake, announced that it was awarded two additional patents covering nanostructure-based field effect transistors (FETs). Nanosys now owns more than 450 nanotechnology patents -- and by extension, so do Harris & Harris investors. More importantly, these patents position Nanosys well for future growth, because FETs are expected to find applications in high-performance arrays for wireless communications devices and nanosensors.
To this end, Nanosys already has agreements in place with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) . If these arrays and sensors find uses in Intel's new WiMax chips, it could bode well for Harris & Harris investors.
Besides Nanosys, Harris & Harris also has equity stakes in other nanotech start-ups that possess potentially valuable patents. For instance, Nantero has valuable intellectual property applying to nonvolatile random access memory (NRAM); Nanomix has patents in the field of nanoelectronic sensors; and Molecular Imprints, which is partnering with Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) and KLA-Tencor (Nasdaq: KLAC ) , is a leader in nanoimprint lithography, a technology that could play a big role in the transition to next-generation computer chips.
Not all of these companies or their technologies will pan out. But by casting a wide net, Harris & Harris is well-positioned to profit, should any of this promising nanotechnology-related intellectual property make its way into commercial products.
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Fool contributor Jack Uldrich is the author of two books on nanotechnology, including Investing in Nanotechnology: Think Small, Win Big. He owns stock in Harris & Harris and Intel. Intel is aMotley Fool Inside Valuepick. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.