A Patent Strategy Proposal for the E-Cat

I would like to draw attention to a very interesting comment that has been submitted to the Journal of Nuclear Physics by inventor Jim Rice who provides a detailed patent strategy proposal for Andrea Rossi which I think makes quite a persuasive case as to how Rossi and Co. should proceed with protecting his intellectual property. It’s quite lengthy, and I won’t include all the post here, but here are some exerpts:

“There are two strategies for obtaining intellectual property protection: Patents and trade secrets. I think the latter is not practical for you due to the probable reverse engineering of your invention shortly after the first model is released to the general public. You can slow the dissemination of how your invention works but not stop it with customer non-disclosure agreements. That leaves us with patents as the only way to protect your invention.

Because of the newness of the field of invention and the new physics involved, you must include in the patent application specifications EVERYTHING that a person knowledgeable in the art would need to reproduce your invention. I interpret this to mean essentially complete blueprints and instructions for construction and operation. This can even include instructional videos, digital CAD files, etc.

If you do this, imitators will immediately begin to construct your invention using your published application. But in the long run it will benefit them not at all because you will eventually have a patent that prohibits construction without your permission. In fact, every time they construct a working copy of your invention, it helps your patent application. . .

It seems to me that there is danger in every day that goes by that you do not submit a new patent application (and it will have to be a new one, since you cannot add to the patent specifications after the application has been submitted) containing sufficient detail that your invention can be reproduced. Eventually, someone else is going to submit enough detail and supporting evidence that their patent will be granted. As you know, the USPTO is now “First to File”, not “First to Invent”. So it will not matter that you invented something first. . .

Bottom line: If I were you, I would begin immediately submitting multible patent applications with very detailed engineering data on how to construct and use all your devices. I think this is the only way you will be able to protect your inventions.”

Andrea Rossi’s response to this comment is also interesting:

Thank you for your useful comment.
I passed your interesting patent strategy considerations to the patent division of our Partner: I am sure their attorneys will consider them.
I am no more involved in patent strategy: I must say that in this period I am working very well because I have no more to think about patents, production, dayly business, etc etc, but only to the R&D and the science of the reactors. I do not know if the results of this work will be positive or negative, as I said many times we will share the information about the results at the end of this cycle of work, but one thing is sure: now I can work full time on the technology, at the maximum of my possibilities, integrated in a team of top level. I feel like ” playing in the majors”. I also am working in an area at very high technological level and strongly industrialized, where there is easy access to any necessary instrumentation we need: when I need some instrument I have just to ask for it, and I receive it in matter of days, if not hours.

Rossi seems to be very happy not to have the responsibility of handling the business matters of the E-Cat — but seems impressed enough with this idea to turn it over to the partner’s legal team. The merit in Rice’s proposal as I see it is that even if Rossi and Co. put extreme limits on access to their technology so as to preserve their trade secrets (which means that dissemination throughout the world would need to limited), it is likely that the secret will leak out by some means or other — and without patents there would be no legal protection for him.

The idea presented, however, would seem to go against Rossi’s demonstrated inclinations to this point. He has been very protective of his invention, and it would be a remarkable change in strategy if all the details of his technology were disclosed in patents.