Patenting Cold Fusion Technology: Navigating Patent Office Classification

This was copied from here.

The following is a further posting in a series of articles by David French, a patent attorney with 35 years experience, which will review issues of interest touching on the field of Cold Fusion.

Following the April 23, 2012 posting on ColdFusionNow one of the commentators observed as follows:

“The US Patent Office has become a grave yard for “Cold Fusion” applications. I wonder what would happen if the ‘powers that be’ anoint one particular LENR application. ………. Frankly, it is hard to believe all the LENR patents are failing to pass US Patent Office muster due to failure to prove that the device works as promised.”

There seems to be a widely held impression that the US Patent Office is refusing to granting patents relating to Cold Fusion devices. This is both true and not true. Here is the background.

There is actually a class in the US patent office classification system for inventions that relate to Cold Fusion. Here it is:

Class 376 INDUCED NUCLEAR REACTIONS: PROCESSES, SYSTEMS, AND ELEMENTS
Subclass 100 NUCLEAR FUSION

– pending applications in AppFT Database for CCL/”376″/100: 79 applications.– issued patents in US Patent Collection db for CCL/376/100: 65 patents.
(Searches done May 29, 2012)

A review of these applications and patents will show that most do not all relate to Cold Fusion. Here are the results obtained by adding “Cold Fusion” as a search term:
Subclass 100 NUCLEAR FUSION

– applications in AppFT Database for CCL/”376″/100 and “Cold Fusion: 21 applications.
– patents in US Patent Collection db for CCL/376/100 and “Cold Fusion”: 27 patents.

However “Cold Fusion” does not appear in any of the claims of the referenced patents. It does appear in the claims of 2 of the referenced applications:

PUB. APP. NO. Title
1. 20100008461 Cold Fusion apparatus Inventor: Hodgson; John Andrew; (Safety Harbor, FL)
2. 20070140400 Cold Fusion apparatus Inventor: Hodgson; John Andrew; (Safety Harbor, FL)

The first, later application published in 2010, replaces the earlier application which was abandoned. Neither of these applications have been examined to the point of being allowed to issue as a patent.

Of the 27 issued patents containing the word “Cold Fusion” it is apparent even just from the titles that they do not necessarily relate to that field precisely. For example, the reference to:

United States Patent 6,024,935 issued to Randall Mills et al. on February 15, 2000 and entitled
“Lower-energy hydrogen methods and structures” only refers to “Cold Fusion” in the list of prior art documentation.

Leaving Class 376 for the moment to identify other patents, US patent 7,893,414 entitled ” Apparatus and method for absorption of incident gamma radiation and its conversion to outgoing radiation at less penetrating, lower energies and frequencies” issued to Lattice Energy LLC (Chicago, IL) on February 22, 2011 on an invention by Lewis G. Larsen of Chicago, IL and Allan Widom of Brighton, MA This patent is not classified as being directed to Cold Fusion technology. The abstract of this patent reads as follows:

Abstract

Gamma radiation (22) is shielded by producing a region of heavy electrons (4) and receiving incident gamma radiation in such region. The heavy electrons absorb energy from the gamma radiation and re-radiate it as photons (38, 40) at a lower energy and frequency. The heavy electrons may be produced in surface plasmon polaritons. Multiple regions (6) of collectively oscillating protons or deuterons with associated heavy electrons may be provided. Nanoparticles of a target material on a metallic surface capable of supporting surface plasmons may be provided. The region of heavy electrons is associated with that metallic surface. The method induces a breakdown in a Born-Oppenheimer approximation Apparatus and method are described.

This patent was classified in US class 250 , subclass 515.1. US class 250 relates to “Radiant Energy”, and subclass 515.1 is defined as follows:

515.1 Shields:
This subclass is indented under subclass 505.1. Subject matter comprising means to absorb radiant energy not elsewhere provided for.

Subclass 505.1 in turn is defined as follows:

505.1 Radiation Controlling Means:
This subclass is indented under the class definition. Subject matter comprising means to modify, contain or eliminate at least some of the emanations or (or caused by, in the case of secondary emissions) a source of invisible radiation.

Accordingly, while the Widom and Larsen patent is very relevant to the field of Cold Fusion, as its claims are not focused on generating excess energy from a Cold Fusion effect, it has been classified elsewhere than US class and subclass 376/100.

Returning to Class 376/100, this Class is a catchall class for inventions that relate to nuclear fusion generally. Here is the subclass definition:

100 Nuclear Fusion
This subclass is indented under the class definition. Subject matter comprising structures and processes in which two reacting nuclei are combined to yield at least one nucleus having a greater mass than either of the reacting nuclei.
(1) Note. Subject matter of this subclass and of the subclasses indented hereunder may include, for example, reactions and methods including neutron generators wherein the neutron is a product of a fusion reaction, e.g., A D-T reaction.

(2) Note. Patents are included in this and indented subclasses even if there is failure of the system to actually obtain fusion if it is clear that the intent or aim of the patent is to obtain it.

(3) Note. Neutrons from an ionized or plasma system or reaction may be appropriately utilized or moderated to bring about or cause a fission-type nuclear reaction.

(4) Note. Energy or heat of a nuclear fission reaction system may be appropriately utilized to bring about ionization to plasma or fusion reaction levels.

Classifying Cold Fusion inventions in this class and subclass is really an act of despair. That category is very broad. Many dozens of further subclasses address particular cases of a nuclear fusion process. The higher subclass is only used if there is no existing more precise subclass. There is no US specific subclass for a Cold Fusion invention.

This specific subclass 376/100 presupposes that the nuclear reaction taking place is “two reacting nuclei are combined to yield at least one nucleus having a greater mass than either of the reacting nuclei”. Perhaps this event occurs in Cold Fusion, perhaps not. It may be that only neutron absorption occurs after neutrons are created, followed by fission. If that is what a patent application represents as occurring, then US Patent Office Examiners may hesitate to place such an application in Class 376/100. Nevertheless, this is where most Cold Fusion inventions based on increasing the mass of atomic nuclei are likely to be classified until a more specific subclass is created.

This ends Part 1 of this posting on patent classification as it relates to Cold Fusion. Part 1 has addressed the traditional classification system used at the US patent office. There is a separate classification system in effect in Europe. This is the “International Patent Classification” – IPC. Part 2 will address the treatment of Cold Fusion under the IPC.
The following is a further posting in a series  of articles by David French, a patent attorney with 35 years experience, which will review issues of interest touching on the field of Cold Fusion.

As a preliminary matter, I have been asked why I am doing these postings.  I have a message.  That message is:

“Patents are a vast resource for learning about what is going on.  Read them.  Understand them.  And you will make better inventions yourself.”

The present posting continues with that objective.

In Part 1 of this posting we examined how Cold Fusion applications and patents are classified under the traditional United States patent office classification system.  Patents are also classified by another system, extensively in use in Europe and elsewhere and also used as a secondary classification system within the US patent office.  This is the system of the International Patent Classification – IPC sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO in Geneva. WIPO is the same organization that operates the Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT.

Currently, US patents are simultaneously classified both under the US classification system and under the IPC.  This has not been true in the past, but it is true today.  And through back-classification, US patents from about 1902 onwards are now also classified under the IPC.

The IPC is an intuitively designed method for classifying inventions. The first number of the class is always a letter of the alphabet that corresponds to one of the following:

International Patent Classification

Section A — Human Necessities

Section B — Performing Operations; Transporting

Section C — Chemistry; Metallurgy

Section D — Textiles; Paper

Section E — Fixed Constructions

Section F — Mechanical Engineering; Lighting; Heating; Weapons; Blasting

Section G — Physics

Section H — Electricity

The section that concerns us is: G-Physics. Subsection and further subsections that concern us are:

G21

NUCLEAR PHYSICS; NUCLEAR ENGINEERING

G21B

FUSION REACTORS (uncontrolled fusion, applications thereof G21J

G21B 3/00

Low-temperature nuclear fusion reactors, e.g. alleged Cold Fusion reactors [8]

(enter the subclass on the IPC Home page in the left-side box under “Current symbol” to view subclass)

In the case of the IPC there is an actual category for a “low-temperature nuclear fusion reactor”.  The full classification code is: G21B 3/00.  With this code, searches for patents can be carried out in various patent offices around the world.  Here are some results for searches at the European Patent Office – EPO.

 EPO Search 

In the EPO there is a single database that includes both applications and patents.  A document that contains the letter “A” in its reference number relates to an application.  A document that contains the letter “B” in its reference number refers to an issued patent.

Searching in the EPO patent and patent application database using the IPC classification G21B3/00 (on the date of this search, May 15, 2012) as the search term produces 93 results.   Here  is the resulting list of viewable documents identified in the search.

We can carry out this search a second time combining the specific class with additional terms.  Here are the results when searching for the combination of:  “Cold Fusion” in the full text of a document and G21B3/00 as the IPC classification – 12 results found.  Here are the results of that search.

It is pretty clear from these search results that the European Patent Office is at least receiving applications that are directed to Cold Fusion related inventions.  Due to the delays in examination that can amount to 4, 5 and 6 and more years, few of these applications have issued patent.  (An issued patent has a number with B-in-a-bracket following.)  But it is often advantageous for an applicant to have the actual grant of a patent delayed.

IPC searching at the US PTO

Returning to the US patent office, searches can be done amongst pending applications and issued US patents using the IPC classification system.  Here are some of the results on the patent side, done around May 15, 2012:

USPTO Search

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
ICL/G21B3/00: 31 patents.

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
(ICL/G21B3/00 AND fusion): 23 patents.

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
(ICL/G21B3/00 AND “Cold Fusion”): 19 patents.

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
(ICL/G21B3/00 AND “excess heat”): 15 patents.

Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for:
((ICL/G21B3/00 AND “Cold Fusion”) AND “excess heat”): 12 patents.

The above searches were done amongst issued US patents using the IPC classification system.  Here are some of the results on the application side:

Results of Search in AppFT Database for:
ICL/G21B3/00 and “Cold Fusion” and “excess heat”:   7 applications.

And here is an actual list of pending applications that meet the above search criteria:

PUBLISHED APP. NO.                                             Title

1.  20120069945 INTERACTIONS OF CHARGED PARTICLES ON SURFACES FOR FUSION AND OTHER APPLICATIONS

2.  20110142183 Multiring apparatus and method to measure heat released by a sample loaded with hydrogen

3.  20100303188 Interactions of Charged Particles on Surfaces for Fusion and Other Applications

4.  20100195780 Apparatus and process for thermal gradient-driven metal catalyzed fusion reactor

5.  20100008461 Cold Fusion apparatus

6.  20090122940 LOW TEMPERATURE FUSION

7.  20080205572 Apparatus and process for generating nuclear heat

(Hyperlink access to these applications is available here.)

While the titles provide some indication of the content of the documents, the above results do not necessarily mean that these patent applications actually address Cold Fusion.  It only means that this term or phrase was used somewhere in the document, along with “excess heat”. They have, however, been classified by a classification examiner in International Class G21B3/00.

Furthermore, even if a patent issues on any of these applications, this does not mean that a useful process for delivering unexplained excess heat has been described.  Many times examiners choose not to challenge an applicant to prove utility.  It is possible to file a patent application that is totally erroneous, and sometimes it will slip through, surprisingly, more often than not.

Additionally, if a patent application describes a process that could possibly be useful to provide excess heat through Cold Fusion, but only claims a collateral arrangement which is apparently operative, then the patent will issue.  This is because the patent is not directed to controlling the generation of heat through Cold Fusion.  Patents are classified according to what they claim.

Where is the breakthrough patent?

Almost certainly many other patent offices around the world have been receiving applications relating to Cold Fusion. Most of these applications will eventually be paralleled at the US Patent Office. These applications may describe a valid process, or not.  Anyone can search and review such documents once they are laid open to the public.  If anyone has filed an absolute winner patent application that describes how to make it happen, we would almost certainly know about it once 18 months have passed from the original filing date.

Most countries in the world allow private research to be carried out notwithstanding the existence of an issued patent.  Furthermore, applications cannot be used to disrupt even full-out commercialization up to the point when a patent is granted.  Once a patent issues, compensation can be required for pre-grant use, and an injunction may issue.  But with some 150 countries around the world, it is unlikely that any person obtaining a controlling patent in the field of Cold Fusion will be able to shut-down everywhere the exploitation of the knowledge provided in a patent application that describes a working process.  This is just as true concerning Cold Fusion as it is true concerning the alleged 100 mile per gallon carburetor.

 Accordingly, there is good reason to believe that the breakthrough knowledge to solve the Cold Fusion riddle and provide the world with its stream source of energy has not been addressed in a patent filing, unless it is amongst those applications still pending in their 18 month secrecy period..

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: