This application was filed in the US on April 26, 2014 claiming priority from three earlier US applications made on May 2, May 3 and May 10, 2013. No changes can be made to the disclosure as from April 26, 2014. It will still take another year for the US Examiner Tu Ba Hong to search the invention and issue a first Office Action.
This filing was paralleled by a separate application made under the Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT on April 26, 2014. The PCT filing claims the benefit of the same three US priority filings and probably has the same text as the US application made on the same date. Like the US application no changes can be made to the PCT disclosure as from April 26, 2014.
In both cases the original applicant was Industrial Heat, Inc. of 111 E Hargett St, Ste 300, Raleigh, North Carolina. This name was corrected before the USPTO on October 6, 2014 to IPH International BV of the same address and an assignment of the application to Leonardo Corporation was entered on the same date. The US application as published on November 6th shows Leonardo Corporation of 1331 Lincoln Road, Suite 601, Miami Beach, Florida as the applicant.
While the US filing will not be searched for a year the PCT application as published was accompanied by an International Search Report – ISR. No relevant references were found by the PCT Searcher. Three references were cited as being of interest but not damaging to the application: the 2011 US published application corresponding to Rossi’s first PCT filing, the Fleischmann & Pons PCT application of 1990 as filed by the University of Utah and a Russian reference RU 2267694 by Chabak Aleksandr Fedorovich published January 10, 2006. The PCT search was carried out in Moscow by the International Search branch of the Russian Patent Office. The only class searched was a single international class F24J 1/00. By way of contrast the corresponding US application was tagged for searching in a number of classes, including the International Class for Cold Fusion technology.
Before addressing the content of the disclosure in this new, published, 2nd Rossi US application, some further observations will be made about the “tombstone” data associated with this filing. The American firm acting on behalf of the original applicant, Industrial Heat, Inc., is NK Patent Law of 1917 Water’s Edge Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina. This firm has 5 patent professionals, 4 of whom are attorneys and one patent agent. They also have offices in Durham, North Carolina. At the same time, Rossi is pursuing his 1st application in the US using the New York firm of Hedman & Costigan PC. One possible reason for separate firms being involved is that the applicant, Industrial Heat, Inc. in the 2nd filing may have chosen the firm to have carriage of the 2nd application.
The fact that the 2nd application has been transferred from the name of Industrial Heat, Inc., (changed to IPH International BV), to Leonardo Corporation as recently as October, 2014 suggests that the original applicant may have withdrawn from being associated with the application. Leonardo Corporation was originally formed by Andrea Rossi. Presently, there is no reason for Rossi to change the patent firm designated for that 2nd application as no substantial expenses are imminent. It may be that they will agree to continue acting on a pro bono or on a deferred remuneration basis. Certainly it would be cost efficient for Rossi to consolidate the 2 applications in a single firm. It will be interesting to see which one he chooses.
The fact that the search was carried out at the Russian Patent Office is not especially relevant. They can do competent searches. But the limitation of that search to a single class is of more concern. To be fair, searches are supposed to be directed to the subject matter of the claimed invention. This invention has a number of claims that are likely to be amended in the course of examination. It would be highly desirable for the scope of search in respect of this application to be broadened. There is a prospect that this may occur when the US Examiner reaches the US application. But if the US Examiner chooses to reject the application as being based upon the unproven phenomenon of Cold Fusion, he may skimp on the search. That kind of rejection is often an easy way out for US Examiners who are on a tight schedule. There may be a template for rejecting Cold Fusion applications circulating amongst the Examiners at the USPTO.
Now we can turn to the substance of the disclosure in the pending US application.
It is important to appreciate that, with the amendments to the US patent law of 2013, it is now true around the world that no-one can obtain a valid patent for an arrangement that has been “made available to the public” prior to the filing date of an application. Something is “available to the public” if disclosed in any way or if it is “obvious” based upon everything that is known. If you delay filing for a patent then you are playing Roulette with the system.
If it is too late to obtain a patent for a key feature of an arrangement under these rules then no-one can obtain a patent on that specific feature. Keeping a concept secret at that point is likely to only provide a limited period of protection from competition. Secrets will out, eventually.
The fundamental principle of the free market is that everyone is free to copy whatever is not specifically protected under Intellectual Property laws.
Even if Andrea Rossi has discovered an effect for which he deserves a Nobel Prize, he will not be entitled to obtain a patent unless the patent documents as filed have been properly prepared. This means that the invention has to work (also a requirement for a Nobel Prize), and that the disclosure accompanying the application as filed must be sufficient to allow persons skilled in the field to achieve the benefits of the invention. The disclosure must be “enabling”. Then as the applicant he must develop language for one or more patent claims that specify arrangements that contain a feature which is both new and unobvious.
Referring now to the present application, while the claims look ridiculous as a first impression, at the time of filing claims can be merely placeholders. Claim 1 as filed reads:
“1. A reactor device comprising: a sealed vessel defining an interior; a fuel material within the interior of the vessel; and a heating element proximal the vessel, wherein the fuel material comprises a solid including nickel and hydrogen, and further wherein the interior of the sealed vessel is not preloaded with a pressurized gas when in an initial state before activation of the heating element.”
Is this new? Is it unobvious? Does it describe something that works? Dynamite in a can along with nickel and water vapour meets this definition when thrown in a fire. Water contains hydrogen, doesn’t it? A claim should include enough context to focus it on a structure that works, is new and is unobvious.
Deficiencies in the claims at the time of filing are not fatal. The issue is whether there is “meat” in the disclosure sufficient to support claims that are valid and have real value. Claims can be presented at a later date so long as they are “supported”, ie, address structures sufficiently outlined in the disclosure at the time of filing. What, therefore, is disclosed in this patent application?
Here is a sample of what is asserted in the disclosure:
“ Experimental investigations of heat production in layered tubular reactor devices according to several embodiments have been conducted. In each example, the reactor device was charged with a small amount of hydrogen loaded nickel powder. An exothermic reaction was initiated by heat from resistor coils inside the reactor device. Measurement of the produced heat was performed with high-resolution thermal-imaging cameras, recording data every second from the hot reactor device. Electrical power input was measured with a large bandwidth three-phase power analyzer. While all three experiments yielded interesting results, the reactor device 100 was damaged during the first of the three experiments. The latter two experiments were conducted without equipment failure, and data was collected in the latter two experimental runs for durations lasting 96 and 116 hours, respectively. Heat production was indicated in both experiments. The 116-hour experiment also included a calibration of the experimental set-up without an active charge present in a dummy tubular reactor device. In the case of the dummy reactor device, no extra heat was generated beyond the expected heat from the electrical input.”
What is the structure that makes this work?
 …… In a reactor device disclosed herein, an exothermic reaction is fueled by a mixture of nickel, hydrogen, and a catalyst. In the embodiments detailed in these descriptions, thermal energy is produced after the reaction within an inner-most tube of a layered tubular reactor device is activated by heat produced by a set of resistor coils located outside the inner-most tube but inside the layered tubular reactor device.
 Each reactor device, according to these descriptions, includes a reaction chamber in which nickel powder and hydrogen react in the presence of a catalyst……
I don’t want to go any further. These are the only two references to a “catalyst” appearing in the application. No reference is made to a “catalyst” by name in the claims. How can this be an enabling disclosure?
For clarification as to patenting requirements in the United States here is an excerpt from the US Patent Act:
35 U.S. Code § 112 – Specification
(a) In General.— The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor or joint inventor of carrying out the invention.
How can the best mode requirement be met when a catalyst is required and that catalyst is not disclosed? How could this application even have been filed?
Others can search through this disclosure for ostensibly useful technical information, but as a patent filing this application will encounter great difficulties.