If even a fraction of the predictions about nanotechnology are realized, our society will be a dramatically different and better place than it is today. Yet, due to the infancy of the field, it is still unclear how traditional patent doctrine will be applied to nanotechnology. As it stands, the creators of nanoscale versions of traditional products might face infringement claims from traditional patent holders. The reverse doctrine of equivalents serves as a possible mechanism to equitably excuse the literal infringement of traditional patents by nanotech inventors in a way that encourages the progress of science.
Andrew Wasson, Protecting the Next Small Thing: Nanotechnology and the Reverse Doctrine of Equivalents, 3 Duke Law & Technology Review 1-12 (2004)