The following is a further posting in a series of articles by David French, a patent attorney with 35 years experience, which will review patents of interest touching on the field of Cold Fusion.
Pending PCT patent application by Randall Mills and Black Power Inc. – Part 1
December 12, 2011 –In response to my last posting I was sent a reference to the following PCT patent application: Electrochemical Hydrogen-Catalyst Power System with the suggestion that I might comment on it. That is the subject of this posting.
First, by way of review, a PCT application is a patent application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. This is a system for processing applications. It does not produce patents. The PCT system allows a single application to be filed that will cover some 135 countries. The filing remains as an application for a period up to 30 months. After that, national patent filings must be made in individual countries. But the 30 months buys time.
In this case, the application is directed to an invention by Dr Randall L. Mills of Blacklight Power, Inc. of Cranbury, New Jersey. Randall Mills and Blacklight Power have been around for a long time, since at least as early as 1991. Here’s a further commentary on both parties as found in Wikipedia.
This patent application is significant for two reasons that I will address in this post and in a following post. It demonstrates further aspects of the patenting process, and it explores the prospects that the theories of Randall Mills are relevant to the phenomena of Cold Fusion.
Addressing the patent application, it should be appreciated that Randall Mills has a track record of filing for patents. At the US patent office he is listed as having filed 40 applications since 2001. The filings transcend energy issues and address pharmaceuticals and a variety of other inventions. Clearly this person is a prolific inventor.
The immediate PCT application is interesting for several special reasons. This is an application that is still within the PCT system. It has not yet resulted in national filings before individual country patent offices. At the same time, it is based on original American patent applications. In fact, unusually, it is based on some 25 US filings listed under the title: “Priority Data:”. Each of these US applications is “provisional”. This is indicated by the use of the serial number that begins with “61/” (or “60/” in the past).
A Provisional US patent application entitles an applicant to claim the benefit of the priority accorded to its filing date for what is disclosed in the application. This is useful in filing not only later applications in the United States but also in making patent applications in countries around the world. Claiming a priority date gives an applicant an entitlement, a priority, over other inventors that might file for the same thing. It also gives priority over publications that occur after the filing date which might otherwise bar the grant of the patent. A priority filing “shelters” subsequent patent applications from the novelty-barring affects of post-priority date publications.
A priority filing date is only good for one year from the date of the earliest filing made. It must be claimed and proven when national patent applications are filed. A US Provisional application is useful primarily only to establish a priority date. The US Provisional application becomes automatically abandoned after one year. It must be replaced with a final, “Non-Provisional” application. In this case, the PCT application represents such a Non-Provisional US application. It also counts as an application in all participating countries around the world. To complete the procedures, individual “national entry” applications have to be made on exiting the PCT by month 30 or 31 from the earliest priority date.
What is unusual about this PCT filing is that it has so many provisional US applications listed on its cover. Randall Mills and Black Power Inc. have repeatedly filed Provisional applications because, presumably, they are enhancing the story and wish to have credit, a filing date, for each new section that they’re adding to the disclosure. These multiple filings usually reflect the growth of the applicants’ understanding of the invention in the course of its development. More typically, inventors simply file an initial application which is a Provisional, and then follow-up the Provisional with a final Non-Provisional application at the end of the priority year. If an inventor has had no further thoughts on his invention during the priority year, then this is the proper course to follow. Optionally filings can also be commenced directly with a Non-Provisional application.
The fact that so many Provisionals have been filed in this case probably represents both a developing understanding on the part of the inventor and the prospect that the applicant considers the invention to be very important. Multiple priority filings are appropriate if there is a prospect that others may invent something similar. Virtually all countries in the world award patents, in the case of competing applications, on the basis of the party having the earliest filing date.
In respect of this specific PCT application the earliest priority filing was made on July 30, 2010. Preserving the right to claim priority, the PCT application was filed within one year of the 1st priority filing, namely on March 17, 2011. There would not normally be an advantage in filing a PCT application earlier than the end of the priority year. Why this PCT filing was made two thirds of the way through the priority year is unexplained.
The deadline to file in the individual countries is set by the earliest priority date. That deadline is for many countries 30 months and for other countries 31 months after the earliest priority date. That sets the 30 month national entry deadline, which applies to the United States, for this application as January 30, 2012. Accordingly, we can expect that this further invention by Randall Mills will appear on a list of US filed patent applications shortly after January 30, 2012.
Under present circumstances, it is taking on the order of 2 to 3 years before the US examiner will take-up a US patent application and commence examination. That process will begin with an examiner’s search report combined with a commentary by the examiner as to whether the patent disclosure, and particularly the claims, are in order so as to support the grant of a patent. Applicants normally have at least one, or more typically several, opportunities to engage in exchanges with the examiner and make corrections that will allow the examiner to approve the application for issuance is a patent. Conveniently, at the US Patent Office it is possible to monitor this applicant-examiner exchange over the Internet, once it occurs. Following the exchange in this case could prove most interesting.
This concludes the 1st part of this posting. The 2nd part, which will be posted subsequently, will address the relevance of this application to the ColdFusion story. Summarizing shortly, this application purports to teach that electricity can be generated based on the phenomena of the formation of a shrunken hydrogen atom named by Randall Mills as a “hydrino”. Mysteriously, this disclosure makes one short reference to the possibility that the formation of hydrino atoms can contribute to a fusion event. More discussion to follow.
To be continued.
David French is a retired patent attorney and the principal and CEO of Second Counsel Services. Second Counsel provides guidance for companies that wish to improve their management of Intellectual Property. For more information visit: www.SecondCounsel.com.
David French is prepared to address questions included as commentaries to any of his postings or by direct email. In particular, he would like to learn what people need to know in order to better understand patents.