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making extensive reference to Piantelli’s most recent published patent application filed in 2008, as well as further unpublished applications of April 26 and July 14, 2011 (link here – transfer to homepage may be needed to make links work).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.