Profiting from the coming Revolution through Patents

The following is the 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.

September 12, 2011 –On September 2, 2011 I was interviewed by James Martinez who provides audio podcasts on the Internet, particularly through the Internet radio website: Cash Flow!.  That radio interview event has now been posted here.  It was inspired by my previous postings on issues relating to cold fusion patents.

In the course of the conversation James remarked that he knew of investors who were looking for opportunities to invest in Cold Fusion. Where should they begin? This was a very legitimate question. James advised that these investors were at a loss because there seemed to be so much confusion in the field.

My first reaction during the interview was to observe that, in terms of patents, there may never be a “master patent” in the Cold Fusion field. A Master Patent is one that covers every way of accomplishing a result. Such a patent can only issue for a configuration that is new in the sense that it is the first to achieve the general result. It’s quite possible that in the last 20 years there have already been one or more descriptions of a working Cold Fusion system. If so, because of such a public disclosure, no one can ever patent the general concept of exploiting Cold Fusion at large.

But what can still be patented is a specific configuration for generating excess energy through Cold Fusion that works better than other systems. There are going to be numerous opportunities for identifying technical improvements that will reduce costs and make the basic invention more valuable.

In the course of the interview I gave the example of Alexander Graham Bell. Bell definitely invented a mechanism and system that could function as a telephone. Essentially, his idea was to use a voice pickup which operated on the basis of magnetic induction. This is the mechanism by which, when a wire is moved in a magnetic field, this forces a current flow within the wire. Conversely, when current flow creates a magnetic field, this field can create motion, as by moving an iron plate and thereby generating sound. Bell’s concept was to use the human voice to generate current at a source and then transfer the current to a receiver which also operated on the basis of magnetic induction. Bell’s original concept could be duplicated today by simply joining two loudspeakers, one a transmitting loudspeaker that serves as a microphone, and another that acts as a receiving loudspeaker. Talking into one loudspeaker will cause a change in the magnetic field within the transmitting loudspeaker which would generate a current which will carry down the wire and provide a reverse effect at the receiving end. This is what Bell invented.

However, with the technology of 1876, this invention would not have supported a practical telephone network. The reason is that the human voice does not provide very much energy for sending a signal down a wire. It was not until after six months from obtaining his US patent that Bell was able to send a very weak signal a distance of 18 miles, from the Cambridge to Salem Massachusetts. It took another in event to make the telephone system truly practical.

A year after Bell obtained his patent Thomas Edison filed to obtain a patent on a “carbon” microphone.    Another person, Emile Berliner also invented the same structure.    In both cases, powdered carbon was compacted and relaxed by pressure arising from a membrane into which people would speak. This would vary the resistance of the carbon and, with a large voltage applied across the entire circuit, send a substantial current down the wire that varied in accordance with the sound spoken into the microphone.  The carbon microphone “modulated” the current flow in step with the spoken words of the person speaking into the microphone.  This allowed the transmission of telephone signals to a more distant receiver. The carbon microphone made the telephone practical. Carbon microphones were in use in the standard telephone handset up until around 1980 when piezo-electric microphones came into more general use.

The same path for making progressive innovations is likely to apply in respect of Cold Fusion. Initially Cold Fusion may only generate energy as a trickle. The temperature may not be very high. The source of energy might be depleted quickly and have to be regenerated. Under these circumstances, there will always be creative individuals who will see opportunities to improve the delivery of Cold Fusion energy. In this future world there will be a race to make improvements to help make the basic idea work better.

As a consequence of my interview with James Martinez, I also came to a realization that surprised me. I suggested that any investor who wants to take advantage of the potential of this the future opportunity would be well advised to assemble now a team of individuals to study the situation. The first thing to do is to survey the literature. I suggest initially a team of four individuals.

As I envisage it, the team would include one very experienced physicist. This would be a person who understands and can distinguish good physics from bad physics. This person would provide guidance to the team to differentiate between hot leads and the dead ends.

The second person on the team would be a journalist. This journalist would initially be responsible to guide the search for and examination of the literature that exists worldwide on the subject of Cold Fusion. The object of the team will be to garner-in all of the wisdom that has accumulated to date on this subject. The challenge will be to separate the kernels of truth from the mountain of chaff that already exists. A journalist will have the skill and enthusiasm to labor through all of the literature in search of the truth and guide other members of the team in this exercise.

As a further individual on this team, I would suggest a graduate student, possibly somebody working towards their PhD. This person would assist the journalist and work under the tutelage of the physicist in analyzing concepts. Indeed, it may be appropriate that there be two such individuals on the team. These individuals will provide youth and energy, creativity and imagination, to the group. They will also support other members of the team in doing the work. It will be an invigorating experience for them, quite possibly the experience of a lifetime.

The last individual on the team could, on reflection, be a patent attorney. I confess that I am a patent attorney myself, so perhaps I am prejudiced in making this suggestion. But a patent attorney would bring rigor to the analysis of the group, establishing standards for accurately and concisely recording ideas and thoughts. A good patent attorney is able to judge whether the technology being presented is valid or not. A good patent attorney will always ask the question: “What other ways are there to obtain this result?” Having a patent attorney on the team will complement the skills of the other individuals. And he will be able sniff-out patenting opportunities when they arise.

I envisage such a team as being egalitarian. That is there would be, amongst team members, no leader. They would meet and decide amongst themselves how each individual is to spend their time. In case of disagreements that cannot be resolved, there should be someone outside the team who can arbitrate issues. But so long as the team is able to guide its own efforts, there would be no leader. The object would be for everyone to learn the skills of the other members, and working together, get the job done.

And what would that job be? One job would be to understand who out there is already in the lead and is getting it right. From the direction that this apparent winner is heading, their job would be to look for consequences, secondary and tertiary consequences that would flow from eventual success. Then investments could be made that are directed to such secondary and tertiary consequences. For example, it may be that Cold Fusion will be ideally suited as the energy source for a Stirling engine. In such event, investors may wish to support existing Stirling engine fabricators.

Another role for this team would be to become inventors themselves. Having become knowledgeable in the field, they could identify bottlenecks, and brainstorm as to how to best overcome the bottlenecks. Breakthroughs would not be certain. But if they were to occur, they, like the carbon microphone, may prove to be of immense value.

Those were my thoughts after the interview ended. However I also had a further thought. Perhaps teams like these have already been formed. Indeed, they may have been formed in distant countries where governments are more foresighted and recognize that, when a technology of stupendous importance is at stake, it’s highly desirable to make an investment in understanding what’s going on, just in case.

Review of Cold Fusion Patents – Widom and Larsen

The following is the 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.

August 27, 2011 –In the previous posting in this series we identified the two PCT patent applications filed by Francesco Piantelli. In this posting, we will review a US patent filing by Lewis Larsen and Alan Widom for the Generation of Ultra Low Momentum Neutrons.  (For links in this posting to work it may be necessary to switch from the e-mail version to the Cold Fusion Now web site – here.) 

Rejection of a “Cold Fusion” US patent application

– Widom & Larsen 2005-06 filing –

Today we’re going to examine an example of a rejection of a US patent application directed to a Cold Fusion application based on an examiner’s allegation that the application did not teach how to deliver the benefits of the invention.

On April 28, 2006 Lewis Larsen and Alan (also spelled Allan) Widom effectively filed a US patent application by making a Patent Cooperation Treaty filing entitled: “Apparatus and Method for Generation of Ultra Low Momentum Neutrons”.  Access to this application on the USPTO database can be obtained here.

Actually, access to any US patent application can be obtained by starting at the USPTO homepage at www.USPTO.gov. To save readers from having to navigate through several pages containing far too many words, the best direct link to start searching is at: http://appft.uspto.gov/

On this page are links to almost everything you need in order to access pending US applications since 2001 and issued US patents dating back to 1976. Today we’re going to examine the pending application which was abandoned on April 9, 2010 by the applicants for failure to reply to an examiner’s request that the applicants file evidence confirming that the invention as alleged in the patent disclosure actually produces the result as promised.

Here’s the procedure you should follow.

On the page  http://appft.uspto.gov/  , on the right-hand side are links to access pending applications. Click on “Quick Search”. This will bring you to a page that offers you two terms to search as well as the ability to select from a large number of fields for each term. The default field is: “All Fields”.

The best way to locate a patent is to provide the name of an inventor, correctly spelled, whom you know is involved in the patent. In this case, enter as term 1 “Lewis” and as term 2 “Larsen”. Be sure to spell it as Larsen and not Larson. If you try the search now without adjusting the fields, you will get on the order of 1485 hits. This is far too many to review. Go back to the screen with the two terms and set the field in each case to “Inventor Name”.

Now, when you search you will obtain four or five hits three of which relate to “Lewis Larsen”. The one we are interested in has the title: “Apparatus and Method for Generation of Ultra Low Momentum Neutrons”. This has a publication number 20080232532 above the letters: “A1”. (The code “A1” is an internationally agreed code for the first publication of an application. Often it appears after a publication number but it is not part of the publication number.)  We are going to use the publication number for the next step.

Before proceeding, you may wish to take this occasion to read the specification set out in respect of this published application. The text where you are presently located is written in HTML making it suitable for copying. The link above, “Images”, will allow you to see a TIF image of the printed published pages plus the drawings, if you have a TIF reader within your computer. If you don’t have a TIF reader, you can obtain one by using the “Help” link in red along the right-hand side of the orange bar at the top of the blank Images screen. Or you can carry the publication number to a fresh browser and visit www.patent2PDF.com. At that site by entering the publication number you can access and download a free PDF copy of the patent which will then allow you to view the drawings.

We will discuss on a future occasion the layout and content of a patent disclosure or specification.

Now you can step back several screens to the basic search screen, or you can open another browser link to arrive at the same screen. You may find this latter option preferable. On the basic search screen, in the center column, click on “Public Pair”. There you will have to enter two words that are hard to read. This is to prove that you’re not a computer search engine. If you have difficulty reading the two words, click on the two arrows chasing each other in a circle and an alternate pair of words will be presented.

Here’s another way to access this page. Go to: http://portal.uspto.gov and then click on “Public PAIR”.

Once you get past this gate you will be presented with a screen that reads “Search for Application”. The default field for the application you’re going to search is its serial number. You have to change this selection by choosing the Publication Number button. Reset the selected category to the publication number and paste-in the number that you copied from the earlier patent specification screen. If you have dropped the number, here it is: 20080232532.

Now you will be presented with an index to documents in the US patent office records respecting this specific filing. The last entry at the top shows the date when this application became abandoned for failure to respond to the examiner. The next entry below gives a status date for that event: April 8, 2010.

Above the title block “Bibliographic Data” are a series of links and the fourth one in reads “Image File Wrapper”. Click on that link. It will bring you to PDF images of all of the correspondence between the applicant and the examiner.

This is useful information.  It contains all of the correspondence between the inventor and the patent examiner.  You are able to watch the arguments, citations and amendments included in the back and forth exchanges between the inventor and the patent examiner over the time that the patent application is pending.

The second entry dated October 5, 2009 is entitled: “Non-Final Rejection”. This document has 16 pages. On the right-hand side you can enter a checkoff in the square box under the column headed “PDF”. Now you have a choice. You can click on “Non-Final Rejection” to read the examiner’s office action page by page. Or you can go up to the link “PDF” and click on it in order to either open or save the examiner’s entire 16 page letter. I recommend the latter as it will be easier to read this document once it’s been saved to your computer. Or you can open it to read it on the screen and save it later. Be sure to keep track as to where you are saving it.

The first four pages of the examiner’s “office action” document are standard. The fourth page, titled “page 3” at the top right-hand corner, is where it starts to get interesting. Starting halfway down on this page the examiner explains the principles of 35 USC 112. This is the section in the US Patent Act that requires that a patent filing must disclose how to build something that works. Then on the next three pages ending on the sheet with “page 6” at the top, the examiner gets to the critical issue:

“Based on the above eight (8) (in re Wands) factors, it is concluded that the specification fails to enable the claimed invention.

“Because the of the (sic) lack of credibility of the existence of neutrons produced through the method as disclosed or claimed, the method is deemed inoperative.”

While this is a rejection, the applicant was given an opportunity to file evidence demonstrating to the examiner that this conclusion was wrong. This could be done in the form of affidavits or declarations of persons who have observed experiments where the promised results of the patent disclosure have been achieved. No such evidence was filed. Instead, the applicants allowed the application to go abandoned.

This is not an indication that the applicants agreed with the examiner. The applicants may very well have had in their possession evidence of an arrangement that did produce low energy neutrons in a crystal lattice as represented in the disclosure. However, the applicants would have been quoted considerable amounts of money in terms of attorneys fees to support further submissions, and they would have been told that their evidence had better be pretty thorough. Furthermore, this rejection may have encouraged the applicants to reread their disclosure to see if they had made representations which were not in fact justified, which could be deleted, and whether they had mentioned everything necessary in order to make the invention work. This is often where a patent disclosure falls down. When the original specification was finally filed, it was supposed to contain all necessary instructions. If it didn’t, then this particular application was doomed to failure in all events.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this scenario? The reasoning of the US Patent Office presented in this examiner’s office action argues that, in this particular case, the results promised by the specification cannot be assumed to be valid without evidence being filed that would demonstrate the promises of the application to be true. In an area where considerable doubt exists as to the consistent reproducibility of an effect, such as in the field of “cold fusion”, it’s not unreasonable for an examiner to ask for such evidence.

If appropriate evidence had been filed, and if the application otherwise passed the tests for patentability, e.g. novelty, inventive step in terms of not claiming an obvious configuration, clarity of claim language and adequacy of disclosure, then a patent would have issued. After all, that’s all it takes in order to obtain a patent.

Persons wishing to make comments on this posting are invited to visit the Cold Fusion Now website where this article is posted.

Review of Cold Fusion patents – Piantelli PCT #2

The following is the second 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.

August 21, 2011 –In the previous posting in this series we identified the two patent applications filed by Francesco Piantelli. We provided links to the applications as published under the Patent Corporation Treaty – PCT. Adventurous readers will have visited those links and explored the patent documents as filed.

In this posting, we will review the second, more recent, Piantelli PCT application in greater detail. Here is a link to that document: (here). (For links in this posting to work it may be necessary to switch from the e-mail version to the Cold Fusion Now web site – here.)

The second Piantelli filing

The second filing is very much relevant as it is still in position to result in the granting of patents in some 130+ countries. The date for exiting the PCT by making national entry filings in individual countries was May 24th, 2011. The national entry filing made into Canada is already available over the Internet: (here)

From the records of the Canadian filing there is an indication that some party having over 50 employees has an interest in this application. This is not a certainty and the identity of such a party, if one exists, need not necessarily be disclosed to the patent office.

Claim coverage of the second filing

Focusing on this most recent filing, a key issue is the scope of monopoly being sought. This is best determined by examining only the independent claims and particularly claim 1 which is always independent. Based on the PCT application, claim 1 of this filing reads as follows:

1. A method for producing energy by nuclear reactions between hydrogen and a metal, said method providing the steps of:

– prearranging a determined quantity of crystals of a transition metal, said crystals arranged as micro/nanometric clusters having a predetermined crystalline structure,

– each of said clusters having a number of atoms of said transition metal less than a predetermined number of atoms;

– bringing hydrogen into contact with said clusters;

– heating said determined quantity of clusters up to an adsorption temperature larger than a predetermined critical temperature, and causing an adsorption into said clusters of hydrogen as H- ions, after said heating step said hydrogen as H- ions remaining available for said nuclear reactions within said active core;

– triggering said nuclear reactions between said hydrogen as H- ions and said metal within said clusters by an impulsive action on said active core that causes said H- ions to be captured into respective atoms of said clusters, said succession of reactions causing a production of heat;

– removing heat according to a determined power from said active core and maintaining the temperature of said active core above said critical temperature.

Patent claims are a list of have-to-have-it features that must be present for something to infringe. Therefore every word is important. I have highlighted in bold some words that I considered to be important. Words used in the claim should be defined somewhere in the disclosure. In this case the precise phrase “impulsive action” is not defined per se in the disclosure, although examples are given of several “triggering” actions. If a claim is unresolveably ambiguous, it will be invalid. But generally, the courts will interpret the claims in view of what is said in the disclosure in a manner that is seeking to understand the actual intention of the inventor.

This claim defines the limits of infringement. If someone else were to create a cold fusion effect without falling within the scope of the entire text of the above claim, then they would not be liable to Piantelli and his co-applicants for patent infringement. We are presently examining an application. The above proposed claim is just that: proposed. Claims with other wording may issue in a final patent.

In fact, a claim as general as Claim 1 above will likely be rejected as violating the novelty rule of patent law: a claim must not describe anything that was previously available to the public. The examiner will make an initial assessment for claim validity, but if he makes a favorable ruling, that will not be conclusive. A patent, or a claim of the patent, issued in error can be invalidated after it has been granted.

Another rule recognized in many countries is that every configuration covered by a claim must operate to deliver what is promised. It is said that a claim must be “operative” across the full range of its coverage. This is a very onerous requirement. The above claim is likely going to be rejected on at least one of those two bases. This is particularly true when you read the broad range of meanings given to the various words in the written disclosure. Is it true that every transition metal will work?

The dependent claims in the pending application that refer back to claim 1 are all pre-designed to serve as fallback alternatives if claim 1 were to fail. It is likely that during patent prosecution before various patent offices that some attempt will be made to modify claim 1 by adding the further limitations of some of the dependent claims to claim 1 in order to obtain an approval for its grant. This will shrink the scope of monopoly rights being granted. But the prospect for the claims to be valid will be increased.

Claim 14 is also an independent claim – check the above link to view it. Everything said about claim 1 applies to claim 14. Both of these claims are a check-off list for infringement. Both of these claims remain to be examined and may not represent the final coverage of any future patent. Typically claims as finally granted are different from those as filed or published during the application stage.

PCT preliminary written opinion

In the course of the processing of the PCT application a preliminary, non-binding, written opinion on claim validity was issued by the PCT search and examination authority. In the case of this application, this authority was the European Patent Office. According to that report (issued late, on May 24th 2011 and available at the PCT link above at the end of the printed PDF patent disclosure), claims 1 and 14 were assessed as being novel in the sense that they don’t describe the prior art exactly; but these claims were nevertheless held to be obvious and therefore unpatentable. At the same time, some of the other dependent claims that refer-back to claims 1 or 14 adding further details and limitations were held to be both novel and inventive. For those claims, this preliminary validity report is favorable. But such approved claims may be very narrow. They can be reviewed at the link, above.

Rejection of claims 1 and 14

As might be expected, claims 1 and 14 have been rejected because they come very close to describing material present in the earlier Piantelli PCT application (which had become published 18 months after its filing date). In support of the obviousness rejection, the examiner also cited a German patent application DE 40 24 515 A1: (here or  Google PatentDe translation here – look for DE4024515A1 (low-quality machine translation); or enter that number here to see figures).  Also cited was data posted on two websites: Azonano.com and Nanoword.net.

The German patent application is shown at the German patent office website as having a corresponding Japanese patent application. No other corresponding applications in other countries (which might use English for the full document) are shown. They might exist, but they have not been shown at the German patent office website. Nevertheless, available particulars in English on the German application from the German patent office are as follows:

Title: Cold fusion of neutron-contg. hydrogen nuclei – by contact with micro-clusters of subordinate gp. element atoms.

 Hydrogen nuclear fusion is effected by contacting pairs of neutron-contg. hydrogen nuclei with microclusters of 3-100000 subordinated gp. Element atoms produced from high temp. ultra-finely divided particles by cooling using a carrier medium. Pref. the microclusters pref. contain 5-200, esp. a magic number of atoms and pref. consist of Pd and/or Ti, opt. alloyed with Ag. The ultra-finely divided particles are formed by evapn., pref. by laser beams or by using particle beams contg. the hydrogen nuclei. Microclusters may be applied to a substrate layer contg. Si, Ti, Gd, Sm or other rare earth which is electrically conductive or which is converted to insulating form pref. by oxidising or nitriding. ADVANTAGE – Process provides reproducible supply of energy for peaceful use by cold fusion of deuterons and/or tritons.

Google has provided a machine translation of the full German specification which is not of high quality. From the German patent office reference, 13 figures are present and Figure 5 is of interest as it shows the carbon molecule C60, “Buckminsterfullerene”. I have not reviewed to find out why this molecule may be important.

This German application was originally filed February 8, 1990 by a German inventor and, apparently, has not issued to a patent. Nevertheless, its disclosure is relevant to the second Piantelli PCT application in limiting the scope of potential patent claim coverage. This application is important for what it discloses and not what it claims.

Not cited in respect of the second Pianitelli filing was an even earlier Piantelli patent application IT 1266073  (B1) that was filed in Italy on March 26, 1992 that never left Italy and never issued to a patent. Those who can read Italian might wish to report on it.

A lot more can be learned by reviewing the disclosure portion of the second Piantelli filing. The negative opinion of the PCT Searching Authority on patentability of some of the principal claims is not binding. But it should be given some weight. The scope of coverage that may eventually arise from this application remains to be resolved by various patent offices around the world.

Piantelli’s further initiatives

Meanwhile, what can be said is that Piantelli aspires to deliver the benefits of excess energy through Cold Fusion based on hydrogen in the gas phase in a manner similar to that of Andrea Rossi. He may have partners in view of the other named individuals designated as applicants on his PCT application. As his initial Italian filing was made in November, 2008, this group has had time to develop the concepts further. According to Ivy Matt in an August 16, 2011 posting on Cold Fusion Now, the Italian patent office has reported that two new filings have been made by Piantelli as of April 26 and July 14, 2011. Assuming these filings to be part of a related series, the applications will not be published until 18 months from the filing date of the earliest application of the series.

Multiple patent filings for related inventions are often made in the year following a first filing which establishes a first priority filing date. This year is called the “priority year”. These multiple filings are then consolidated as of 12 months from the original filing date to make a final filing. If this is completed within one year, then priority can be claimed from the original priority date. This final filing would typically, though not necessarily, be made under the Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT. A PCT filing allows a further 18 months beyond the end of the priority year before national entry filings have to be made in individual countries. No change to the text of the “story” of a PCT application can be made once a PCT filing has been initiated. Conveniently, the PCT system publishes all applications as of 18 months after the earliest filing date of the patent series.

Assuming Ivy Matt got his recent Italian filing data from the Italian patent office, this office appears to publish “tombstone” data directly after an application is filed. Some countries do this. But until 18 months from the original filing date, the full text of applications will not be available to the public.

Piantelli PCT filing of 2008, continued

Returning to the PCT filing of 2008, not enough time has passed for all of the national entry filings that have been made to be recorded either at the PCT office or on the websites of individual countries around the world. At least a national entry filing was made into Canada. We can expect that one was also made in the United States and another before the European patent office. Quite likely national filings were also made in other important countries around the world.

This second application is of interest not just for the exclusive patent rights that may possibly flow from the pending application, an issue yet to be resolved before individual patent offices. A careful reading of the disclosure will give a good impression of what the inventor thinks is required in order to achieve a Cold Fusion reaction. This disclosure is not necessarily complete. If it contains defects, this will cast a shadow over any prospective patent based on that application. This provides some incentive for the original inventor/applicant to tell the true story as best they know it in order to obtain valid patent rights. If they have made mistakes in a filing, they can make further filings, but the claims of any further filings will have to be restricted to new material.

Prospects for a “Master Patent”

Valid patent rights in respect of Cold Fusion cannot be obtained for anything that has been made previously available to the public. It may be that somewhere in the world the secret of reliably effecting Cold Fusion has already been discovered and published. If so, it is not likely that a “Master Patent” (such as that on the telephone) can issue in this field. But if somebody does establish an important trick, a have-to-have-it feature or procedure which is different from the prior art, a difference which makes a difference, then that lucky person will have something which is nearly akin to a Master Patent.

Persons wishing to make comments on this posting are invited to visit the Cold Fusion Now website where this article is posted – here.

Review of Cold Fusion patents

The following is the first 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.

August 18, 2011 –This first review will address two patent applications filed based on inventions by Francesco PIANTELLI of Italy.  Ivy Matt on August 16, 2011 in two posting on Cold Fusion addressed the recent initiatives of Piantelli, making extensive reference to Piantelli’s most recent published patent application filed in 2008, as well as further unpublished applications of April 26 and July 14, 2011 (link here – transfer to homepage may be needed to make links work). This present posting will go to the beginning, comparing Piantelli’s earlier work with his more recent patent initiatives.

Piantelli was one of the earlier researchers who, in 1995, pioneered combining hydrogen with nickel to produce anomalous excess energy. The two published patent references identifying him as an inventor are as follows:

1) Title: ENERGY GENERATION AND GENERATOR BY MEANS OF ANHARMONIC STIMULATED FUSION filed initially 27.01.1994 in Italy (link here)

World applicant (except US): UNIVERSITA’ DEGLI STUDI DI SIENA, Italy

2) Title: METHOD FOR PRODUCING ENERGY AND APPARATUS THEREFOR, filed initially 24.11.2008 in Italy

World Applicants (except US): Silvia and Francesco PIANTELLI, Luigi BERGOMI, and Tiziano GHIDINI, all of Italy (link here)

Both of these applications are PCT filings. That is they are world filings made under the Patent Cooperation Treaty and do not represent patents. Rather, they are applications that have been filed through a central patent application processing mechanism, the PCT.

These applications started with an initial filing in each case in Italy. Within 12 months corresponding upgraded applications were filed within the PCT system. Both applications were published as of 18 months from their Italian filing dates. As of 30 months from the original filing date, it’s required to exit the PCT and make national entry filings in individual countries. Today some 130+ countries can be accessed in this manner. Once a patent application has been prepared (which can cost $5000-$25,000 plus) an application can be filed in the PCT for around $10,000. One benefit of a PCT application is that it will delay the deadline for making national filings until the 30th month from the earliest world filing date.

The first Piantelli filing

The first of the above applications eventually did produce national filings in Canada, Czechoslovakia, the European Patent Office, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania and Sweden. Patents were actually granted in New Zealand and by the European Patent Office but the corresponding application was refused in Czechoslovakia. In other countries the applications may have been granted, refused or may have been abandoned during their pendency. The disclosures in all of these filings were identical to the PCT published disclosure.

This list of countries is certainly different from what you would normally expect. Significantly absent is a filing in the United States. The Canadian filing was abandoned in 2003.

Significance of filing and/or grant of a patent

Not a lot of credit should be given to the fact that a patent application is filed or that a patent has been granted in terms of the legitimacy of the disclosure. Patent offices evaluate patent applications on whether they claim something which is new. Normally, they do not evaluate whether the inventions are good or even whether they work. The only exception is when the inventor proposes to patent something that a national patent office suspects will not function at all, e.g. a perpetual motion machine. Presently, the US Patent Office requires proof that Cold Fusion has actually been obtained if a patent application states that it has achieved Cold Fusion. If the requisite evidence is filed, then this objection to patenting can be overcome.

The first Piantelli filing, continued

The first application was filed in the name of an Italian university. Presumably, the sole inventor, Francisco Piantelli was a faculty member at the University at the time. Accordingly, he had probably agreed to transfer his rights to the University.  The decision to file is likely to have been made by the University. Similarly, the decision to abandon filings or applications was also likely made by the University.

This first filing is not relevant today for what it claimed as being a new invention in 1994.  But it is relevant for what it discloses. Anything disclosed in an application once it has been published can no longer be patented by anybody, anywhere in the world. That is a fundamental requirement for the granting of patents everywhere: that they be focused on a feature which is new in the sense that the claimed feature has never previously been made “available to the public”.

This standard bars patenting for anything to which the public has already had access, whether it was available in writing, posted in an electronic database, or accessible through public use or sales. This is called the “prior art”. A patent applicant is also barred from claiming any obvious variants on the prior art.

To limit the length of this posting, we will review the second Piantelli filing in the next posting. Meanwhile, readers will find it interesting to examine both patent documents by clicking on the links provided above. Explore the screens that these links will take you to. The PCT authority provides links to the description of the patent document and to the status of the application as it proceeds through the system. Of particular interest are the “claims” which the applicant wishes to eventually have approved for inclusion as part of a final patent.  Claims define the scope of the exclusive rights granted under the patent.

The claims as sought on filing rarely correspond to the claims as finally granted. An examiner in each national patent office will do a search and criticize the application, requiring corrections and changes. No changes can be made to the “story”. But the claims can be re-worded so that they are in proper form. To be in proper form, a claim must not describe anything that was previously available to the public.

Patents often appear overwhelmingly complex to someone who is examining a patent for the first time. But once you get used to the experience, there is a vast world of valuable information available for those who are not intimidated.

To help people understand the “story” in these Piantelli patents, reference can also be made to the second August 16, 2011 Cold Fusion Now posting of Ivy Matt concerning Roy Virgilio (link here).

The next posting will address the second patent application and the further unpublished filings made by Piantelli in April and July of this year.

Are you a Believer?

The following guest posting has been written by a retired intellectual property attorney with 35 years of experience: David J. French LLB, BEng, PEng.

It has been over 22 years since professors Fleischmann and Pons of the University of Utah announced they had discovered a new effect: the anomalous production of heat, obtained by driving deuterium, the heavy form of hydrogen that makes up part of “heavy water”, into the metal palladium in an electrolytic cell. They speculated that this novel generation of heat arose from a nuclear phenomenon which the press labeled as “cold fusion” but this postulated mechanism was rapidly discredited and ridiculed after their March, 1989 announcement. Cold Fusion is now the subject of a documentary film “The Believers,” currently under construction by the Chicago production house 137 Films. Believers are those who feel that this promising discovery should not have been neglected.

Criticism came principally from physicists familiar with the fusion process. Fusion was recognized as a process occurring in the high temperatures of the center of the sun. Fusion, as they knew it, always produced highly penetrating gamma rays. None of these signatures of classical fusion emanated from the demonstration electrolytic cell. Furthermore, the procedures for replicating the Fleischmann and Pons effect were uncertain and difficult to achieve. Many other laboratories trying to duplicate the results were unsuccessful. This unfortunate technical glitch, combined with the criticism from physicists who “knew” that fusion could not occur at ordinary temperatures, led many to condemn this concept to the dustbin of bad science. This criticism led to a 22 year “Ice Age” respecting initiatives to explore the phenomenon they had identified.

Believers in this field are, however, those who feel that there is really something here worth exploring. They believe in the fabulous consequences for mankind if this process were to prove real. One commentator has said that the optimum scenario would be as meaningful for mankind as the original discovery of fire.

Since 1990, researchers from around the world have consistently reported the detection of unexplained amounts of excess energy. The focus is on “excess” energy because it seems that some energy is needed to turn-on a mysterious process that puts-out even more energy than is being injected initially. This is akin to striking a match in order to light a fire.

2011 MIT CF/LANR ColloquiumIn a colloquium held over the weekend of June 11-12, 2011 on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the sponsor, Dr. Mitchell Swartz assembled some 40 individuals for a review of recent developments in the field. Interesting additional consequences were identified, including the presence of new elements in the “ash” of the reaction. Experiments starting with palladium or pure nickel have been found to contain traces of copper, silver, zinc and iron after they have been allowed to run for some time. This is akin to the alchemist’s dream of converting lead into gold. How such a result could be occurring may be a valuable clue to the source of the reaction.

Once the mechanism producing the additional heat is finally identified, the next step will be to apply this phenomenon to the service of mankind. On January 14, 2011, Italian scientists Sergio Focardi and Andrea Rossi demonstrated the production of up to 10 kilowatts of steam by exposing nickel powder to pressurized hydrogen on a table top, initiating heat by providing an electric current. The amount of energy said to be produced would be enough to boil simultaneously several kettles of water on the kitchen stove indefinitely, or as long as the reaction continued.

The reported successes of Focardi and Rossi have aroused Believers around the world. This may be the first commercial application of the renamed phenomena of: the Low Energy Nuclear Reaction – LENR. Rossi is reported to have obtained a contract to install multiple numbers of his individual reactors in 2011-12 at a location in Greece to provide a megawatt of steam heat. This would be enough energy to heat 50 typical Canadian homes during the coldest winter months.

If Fleischmann and Pons had merely announced their identification of a process for generating excess heat, without intruding into the world of physicists who know better when it comes to matters relating to fusion, they might be basking in world renown today. Vast government and commercial resources might have been invested over the past 20 years to get to the root of this incredible discovery. Successes such as those of Andrea Rossi might already have been achieved 5, 8 or even 10 years ago and the coming dilemma presented to mankind by the arrival of Peak Oil could already have been addressed in the form of a wonderful new energy source that produces no radioactivity and consumes only such readily available substances as nickel and hydrogen.

But investments on the required scale have not taken place. Researchers laboring in their very modest facilities have done so at minimal cost and investment, often their own. The shadow of doubt and accusations of unreputable behavior heaped on the original Cold Fusion premise by critics, have taken their toll.

Potential benefits suggested by this not yet fully understood new phenomenon are so great that significant investments should be made, despite the fact that the prospects for producing real and tangible industrial benefits may be considered by many observers to be modest.

For Believers there is no doubt: there is really something here worth exploring. They look forward to the day when this new technology will revolutionize life for human beings on the planet Earth.

David French is the principal and CEO of Second Counsel Services, which provides guidance for companies that wish to improve their management of Intellectual Property. For more information visit www.SecondCounsel.com.

Supporting Links:

The Believers from 137 Films

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2011 Cold Fusion/Lattice-Assisted Nuclear Reactions Colloquium Review by Jet Energy Inc.

Jet Energy Inc. Home

Cold Fusion Times MIT 2011 Cold Fusion/Lattice-Assisted Nuclear Reactions Colloquium organizer Mitchell Swartz’ Home

Defkalion Green Technologies, licensing the first commercial applications of Energy Catalyzer technology Home.

David French of Second Counsel Home