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Apple and the Problem with America’s Patent Process

The Apple Computer Company recently patented the concept of a foldable smart phone. While this seems innocuous, it is a sign of the corruption of Washington, DC — all the way to the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO — that a company like Apple can patent something this lame but I cannot patent something that could make a real difference; it speaks of corruption.

Both of my grandfathers and one uncle were patent holders in their lifetimes, and I read patents as a kid.  My first project was an optical system that I took to the leading prototype builder in Hollywood, Irving Jacobson, who advised me not to patent, but keep it secret and use it to make better products saying, “The studios will rip it off and you’ll spend all your life and money in court.”  I took his advice, and as a result, my filmstrip products were the best in the business. But the time came when I had other ideas I could not exploit that way. They were too big.

A friend spent $70,000 getting a patent on an improved battery that seemed simple, but on reading the lawyer-prepared application, I saw the lawyer complicated everything so the patent would be a cash cow for his firm.  The flaw in a lawyer prepared patent is like building a house with many French doors:  Charming, but the burglars love it.

In the 70’s, as a result of my interest in the atmosphere and learning the role of water vapor, I had a flash one-day while driving.  I knew the engine was only 28% efficient in terms of turning fuel into kinetic energy.  72% of it went into the radiator and exhaust pipe.  I saw it in a flash!

Only three percent of the gas molecules in the combustion chamber were capable of absorbing the heat of combustion to expand gases in the cylinder to drive the piston.  The American Association of Automotive Engineers database revealed no one had this idea! A study of several hundred patents showed inventors, not lawyers, prepared 25% of them. All inventor-written applications were perfect in language, concept and science where every one done by law firms was flawed, some deeply.  Where a patent application is usually only ten or 15 pages, why not learn their writing style, save $70,000, and have a better document?  See it at: (ICER Patent Application)

My application was not granted, and I knew it was not because of my writing, as I had a granted patent.  There were several objections, including that I had not used the word “steps” in my Claims section. I did a search of all patents for “steps” and found 80% had not used “steps.”  Getting that lifted took three letters, as the Examiner jacked me around like a piece of flotsam.  He would not dare do that to a firm of attorneys.

Patent examiners do not like inventor prepared patents, as they have more professional responsibility for them than if anything is found in error.  The truth of the matter is that all are done by clerks and not a guy who passed the bar exam, USPTO and pedigree tests.  But, there is more at work:

Patent applications from major corporations making political contributions go through the USPTO like a cat on a bird while mine take months to years, but there is more to the story.

In the beginning of the USPTO, the first person to file an application at the patent office got it.  In 1946 they changed to “the first to invent” which was a full employment scheme for the patent attorneys.  Would be “inventors” showed up with high school notebook pencil drawings and with pricey representation were grabbing patents from real inventors.  Some from big corporations!

A few years ago they switched back to “…the first to file” and left some language in the law that broadens that to filings that did not make it in the first application.  The trick is to file and fail on a minor technicality as patent protection is only 20 years but a failed filing is forever.  When a big corporation files and succeeds, you let them know of your previous filing and tell them you want 1% of the gross business with access to the books and a 100% penalty for trickery, plus fees.  If they throw you out, go to their biggest competitor, but they won’t…

In the ICER case, the USPTO found a patent that bore great similarity to mine with the fatal flaw the inventor was ignorant of the chemistry of internal combustion and that the water injection has to be precisely measured and timed, as you will see in the application at: (ICER Patent Application)  That they would not respond to my arguments tells me they want a big corporation to present them a lawyer prepared application when an engineering department awakens to what is actually going on in such engines.

ICER increases the power output of existing engines by 300%, fully optimized, or reduces the size and weight of engines to 1/3rd their present size and increase fuel mileage similarly, but we will all have to wait until the USPTO is no longer corrupt.  Until then it will be patently Apple.

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Adrian Vance

Adrian Vance is a writer and producer of educational films, filmstrips and audio programs with over 325 productions from script to screen. See a partial list of my credits at http://worldcat.org . And, have written for ten national magazines, been on the masthead of two as an Editor, done a dozen books and am an FCC licensed broadcaster with ten years of on-air experience in radio and television. See my blog, "The Two Minute Conservative" at http://adrianvance.blogspot.com where you will find over 3200 daily pieces, enough material to produce 25 novel length books.

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