Another Big "What If?"

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
George Schmermund
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by George Schmermund » Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:09 am

Richard - I can raise my hand and say "yes, I've prosecuted three utility patents from scratch." Nolo Press publishes a good book for DIYers. There are also other patents with my name on them that have been assigned to other people. I have no problem with that because they rewarded me handsomely as a consultant.

I may have forfeited any future money that the assigned patents might bring, but I went into the deal with my eyes open. I wouldn't have patented the assigned material myself, anyway. The ideas for those projects were only mildly interesting to me. But, that technology was the very core of the assignee's manufacturing process, so it meant a lot to them.

The real value of owned or assigned patents (that I'm directly aware of) is the huge bargaining chips they give me. To be granted a utility patent (the hardest to get) an invention must be 'novel' and 'unobvious' to a person skilled in that technology. Now that anyone can Google patents, it's not hard for me to convince a potential client that I can easily think outside of the box and that the Patent Office has already rewarded me for doing so. Also, the sum of all allowed patent 'claims' can magnify the effect.

What is "the ingenious, inventive, private joe working 9-5" doing there in the first place? If he stays in a job that doesn't reward him for being very creative, he's a chump. To him "Patents are very, very useless" forsooth.
Anything obvious in high vacuum is probably wrong.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:36 pm

Your last statement was correct. Unfortunately most all of the new energy people and the like who speak of secrecy surrounding their devices due to patent issues are just the type I described. Average joes, inventive, poor, skilled of hand if not mind and often have low end jobs that keep food on the table. They, to the man, have a breakthrough device that only needs funding and can't speak of it in technical terms due to said patent issues that they hope to resolve soon. They seek the illusory protection of a patent they will never receive.

Chumps? Probably so, but most likely, self-deluded and pitiable.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

Pascal Dennerly
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Pascal Dennerly » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:24 am

I don't know if non-UK residents would find this interesting but Trevor Baylis (the back room inventor that got rich from the clockwork radio) has set up a business to help your average Joe through the patent minefield. ... e.asp?A332

And it sees pretty genuine too!

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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by MontyRoberts » Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:59 am

falstaff wrote:
> >
> Yes I saw the Nova program too, great show. What they got right was aircraft _control_, not just lift and propulsion. As Nova showed lotsa folks could ~ do lift and propulsion but the Wrights were way ahead in terms of control which they achieved by systematic investigation of aerodynamics and Bernoulli.
Sorry I missed the show. I haven't watched TV for at least 15 years. No time. I'm just an aviation buff and read a lot. Actually their control was far less than ideal. The right flyer was unstable in pitch and was very difficult to fly. The US army grounded the entire fleet of Wright flyers because of unacceptable casualty numbers.

>> So? Can you elaborate as to why patenting their concept, which required large sacrifice, effort and time, is 'wrong'? Scratch that. Please see Federalist 43.
There was nothing wrong with patenting the idea. The problem was they devoted a lot of resources to trying to defend something that was obsolete in about 2 year’s time, instead of putting those resources into developing better technology.

> > The patent is a legal monopoly sanctioned by the state and enforced via the courts. It has no real value otherwise and no analogy outside of the framework of the law. In other words it is simply words on a piece of paper. I would argue the concept of the patent is obsolete, so is copyright.
> Ah excellent!! Guys Ive got this great new song I want to distribute and sell. Goes something like:
> "You say you want a revolution
> Well you know
> We all want to change the world
> You tell me that it's evolution
> Well you know ...."
Go ahead, just move to China or India, or some other place where intellectual property is meaningless, and remake the song. (you need to have the talent to go with it) Sell it on the internet. You will probably make money, and nobody will bother you. If they do, there may be a small "fee" to look the other way. The “fee” will be much less than the royalties you would have to pay otherwise.


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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by MontyRoberts » Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:47 am

Richard Hull wrote:
> Has anyone HERE, in the US, actually privately started the patent process and seen it through to the end, having patent in hand?!!
> What did it cost? In time? In money? In heartache?
I have been down this road. I think it was $10-15K for the patent. I should have spent the money on a big trip to Europe. It would have been more entertaining if less educational.

Time... a lot.

Heartache....a lot; although in the school of life some lessons cost more than others.

The product was a failure due to several factors beyond my control. This is the nature of the beast. The marketplace can change overnight. It did for my product. The patent was around 30% of the capital cost of getting the product to market if my time was free. If my time was billed at my usual rate it was much less.

I offered that patents are obsolete, not that they are useless. A lot depends on what you are trying to accomplish and how your business works. Patents are a legal barrier to entry. A way to place costs on your competitors. (You have to be in a position to afford the costs of putting cost on them)

For something like a table top fusion device, forget it.

For a massive plant, why patent anything? To patent you must disclose the technology, and then you have a limited window in which the patent is in effect. There is a huge capital cost and technical barrier to such an undertaking, why would you disclose your secrets? Why place all that capital and development at risk?

The only patents I have made money on are the ones somebody else paid me to develop.

I just have to laugh when some "inventor" approaches me with an idea he wants me to develop for a share of the "riches". What these poor deluded people don't understand is an idea (even the rare good one) is nothing more than a liability. Most of them require a lot of development time, engineering, tooling, marketing, packaging, distribution, agency approval on and on and on and on. Costs as far as the eye can see, with many chances for failure along the way. I am in the product development business. I am too poor to be a venture capitalist.

I politely tell these people that I require a substantial but reasonable retainer to bill against. That is usually the last I hear from them. This is how I separate the wheat from the chaff. If the check shows up (and clears the bank)...they know what they are doing or at least have the money to get started. Otherwise I'd rather have a root canal than deal with them. It's less painful.

A product is something that you have in your hand that somebody will purchase.

Ideas are like posteriors, everybody has one and some stink worse than others.

Are my opinions colored by my past?


The bottom line is patents are not a playground for the monetarily challenged.


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Doug Coulter
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Doug Coulter » Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:59 pm

I've done a few patents not counting another few done by companies I worked for based on something I thought of. Never made a dime off one. The work isn't that hard once you understand the process, and unless you had some pretty unrealistic expectations, not much heartbreak.

The one thing I ever (jointly with my Dad) patented that had a chance to make money, we turned down a flat cash payment license for, and the company interested (AT&T) found a workaround that did the same thing anyway. The rest were mostly as vanity or documentation. No heartbreak on those, and in one case I made $87,000 for inventing it for the only company that had any use for it.

I think the scale of any working fusion device has a heck of a lot to do with it. An approach I'm working on that'd make 20kw at most due to scaling issues wouldn't be of much interest (or quite a lot of very negative, even dangerous, interest) to power companies or governments, as it wouldn't fit the "subscription model" of a big centralized plant and an automatic billing system, rather, people would own their own power sources, as I do now with my huge solar array.

But most of this thread, while true, misses a major point. I've sold "IP" for a living all my life, cash outright, no percentages, and done pretty well at it, and am now retired so I can play with fusors and suchlike at a fairly young age. I totally agree about using your invention to make money in other than the conventional way. Get that medal, make the speeches, write the book, and so forth. If you can also make money by selling the thing, so much the better.

If someome really makes a working fusor of whatever approach, they can count on Vulture Capitol to handle most of the other issues. I've worked for many startups in my consulting gig and have met plenty of these guys. The inventor still has pretty good control (as they can't do without them unless the invention is pretty trivial), but these guys, if they're any good at it, know the laws, the ways and means, and how to protect their investments pretty darn well or they wouldn't have the money they have now to invest in you. You are the expert on fusion (maybe), and do your thing, so let the experts on money do theirs, it works out better that way.

Get fusion working, the rest is a piece of cake by comparision. This from someone who has started and run two sucessful businesses along the way.
Why guess when you can know? Measure!

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