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A CASE STUDY OF INOPERABLE INVENTIONS: WHY IS THE USPTO PATENTING PSEUDOSCIENCE? - page 31 / 39

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2006:1275

Inoperable Inventions

1305

able to transmit information into an electromagnetically shielded enclosure without using electromagnetic fields. Upon closer inspection, the invention does appear to rest on solid,

albeit somewhat obscure, physics principles.252

However, to properly

understand how the device works, an examiner would have to study significantly more physics than the minimum twenty-four credit hours

required to Maxwell’s

become a equations

patent agent.253

(taught

in

The invention relies254

on

advanced

undergraduate

electrodynamics),255 an understanding of the Aharonov-Bohm effect (taught in advanced undergraduate or graduate quantum theory),256 and the Josephson effect (taught in advanced undergraduate or graduate solid state physics).257 Failure to properly understand how these concepts relate to the invention might lead an examiner to suspect that pseudoscience, rather than science, was involved in its construction, particularly given the bizarre nature of the patent claims.

Excerpts from the examiner’s correspondence with Puthoff appear in the record and give some insight into the misunderstandings involved.258 For example, in rejecting the patent for inoperability, the examiner expressed doubt as to the possibility of the invention accomplishing the following:

  • 1.

    Creating vector and scalar fields in a region where there are no electromagnetic fields.

  • 2.

    Creating a curl-free vector potential.

  • 3.

    Detecting a vector field in the absence of electromagnetic fields.

  • 4.

    Shielding the receiver from electromagnetic waves.259

In fact, all of the above can be accomplished using the device described in the patent operating under known laws of physics.260 The

  • 252.

    Ex parte Puthoff, 1997 WL 1883784, at *2.

  • 253.

    See U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, supra note 142.

  • 254.

    See ’220 Patent cols.1-2.

  • 255.

    See, e.g., DAVID J. GRIFFITHS, INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRODYNAMICS, at

ix (3d ed. 1999).

256. RUBIN H. LANDAU, QUANTUM QUANTUM THEORY 179-80 (2d ed. 1996).

MECHANICS

II:

A

SECOND

COURSE

IN

257.

ANTONIO BARONE & GIANFRANCO PATERNO, PHYSICS AND APPLICATIONS

OF THE JOSEPHSON EFFECT, at viii (1982).

  • 258.

    Ex parte Puthoff, 1997 WL 1883784, at *2.

  • 259.

    Id. at *1.

  • 260.

    Id. at *2. The patent also suggested that an actual working device was

built and tested. U.S. Patent No. 5,845,220 col.8 (filed Aug. 23, 1993) (“In an actual experiment, it was found that the quasi-static conditions can be met easily for frequencies equal at least to 1.5 MHz.”).

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