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A CASE STUDY OF INOPERABLE INVENTIONS: WHY IS THE USPTO PATENTING PSEUDOSCIENCE? - page 26 / 39

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WISCONSIN LAW REVIEW

Newman v. Quigg support the unpatentability of perpetual motion machines, but the courts do not recognize the scientific arguments against such devices as a matter of law.210

Unlike Newman, the drafters of the MEG patent were sensitive to the thermodynamic arguments against the operability of their device.211 In the detailed description sections, the inventors directly address the thermodynamical problem by pointing to the permanent magnet as the source of the excess energy.212 They also deny that the MEG is a perpetual motion machine, stating that “an electromagnetic generator operating in accordance with the present invention should be considered not as a perpetual motion machine, but rather as a system in which flux radiated from a permanent magnet is converted into electricity.”213 According to this explanation, the permanent magnet operates as a “battery” that powers the device and saves it from violating the laws of thermodynamics.214 Predictably, this highly dubious215 explanation is mentioned only once in passing. Instead, the emphasis of the claims is on the generation of power without an external power source,216 conjuring up images of a future world powered by cheap, limitless energy.

Such a vision is shared by at least one of the inventors, Tom Bearden. On his website, Bearden claims that the MEG operates “by

extracting free energy from the vacuum.”217

In fact, the website could

best be described as a portal to a subculture of amateur and professional scientists who believe that traditional energy companies are turning a blind eye to the MEG and other devices that could revolutionize

  • 210.

    See, e.g., 877 F.2d 1575, 1580 (Fed. Cir. 1989); see also supra Part II.A.

  • 211.

    ’718 Patent cols.10-11.

  • 212.

    Id. col.11.

  • 213.

    Id.

  • 214.

    Id.

  • 215.

    The second objective in the summary is “to provide a magnetic generator

in which a magnetic flux path is changed without a need to overpower a magnetic field to change its direction.” ’718 Patent col.4. Because the device simply diverts the direction of the magnetic flux from the permanent magnet, only a negligible amount of energy, if any, will be extracted from it. Further, if the device is a method of generating power from a permanent magnet, it seems counterintuitive to bury the description of this essential function in a single paragraph at column 11. Perhaps a better place to describe this function is in the title of the patent itself.

    • 216.

      ’718 Patent col.1.

    • 217.

      The Tom Bearden Website, http://www.cheniere.org (last visited Nov. 1,

  • 2006)

    . Most scientists believe that extraction of energy from the vacuum violates the

laws of thermodynamics for reasons that are beyond the scope of this commentary. See Wikipedia, Zero-Point Energy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy (last visited Nov. 1, 2006).

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