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PTO Requests Working Model of Warp Drive 277

aborchers writes "According to Patently-O: Patent Law Blog, the PTO has requested a working model of a Warp Drive for which a patent was recently applied. From the article, "Among other rejections, the Examiner has asserted a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 for lack of utility -- finding that the invention is inoperable." At least one examiner is paying attention!"
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PTO Requests Working Model of Warp Drive

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  • Reading the patent.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:09PM (#14754797) Homepage
    seems a bit overdone, I think they pretty much explained freshman quantum physics in the first part... but if you skip down to the bottom, it makes a smidgeon of sense.... I wouldn't doubt that the actual solution is something similar to this, but the problem they would have is that (if the whole electron bit is true) is the immense forces on the armatures and the internal superconductor. Theres a problem is that if you try to push strong magnetic fields into a superconductor, they tend to break down (the property of superconductivity, not the actual ceramics).. so when this thing (if its even possible) starts to lift, it will likely collapse the superconductivity of the internal sphere, and it would fail to lift. You'd still see the difference on a scale, but I would doubt you'd ever get off the "launch pad" in the next 50 years.
  • Re:Too bad... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:27PM (#14754870)
    Here's a hint, Slashdot ... most of the examiners in the electrical arts know more about electronics than you guys.

    Wrongo, legal fanboi. They don't know jack shit about "electrical arts", or else they'd have a real job actually building something instead of shuffling papers in a government cubicle.

    If they had even the slightest bit of talent, they would be embarrassed to categorize the most trivial of ideas to be "non-obvious".

    And they DEFINITELY understand the patent system better than idiots like parent.

    No, they can't see the forest for the trees. All they know about is masturbatory legal minutia. For example, they can't see how software patents are threatening to destroy innovation in the software industry, because they're not actually trying to make a productive living developing software. They just get paid to plant landmines all over the industry landscape; they don't give a shit about who ends up getting hurt or who has to clean them up. All they know is that their bosses allocate them a couple of hours to plant each mine, and their organization is rewarded based on how many mines get planted.

  • Re:Too bad... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:34PM (#14754897) Journal
    I'd really like to see the PTO require working models of all "inventions" submitted for patent

    That used to be among the requirements, but the costs of storing all the models became prohibitive back in the 1870's or so. The Smithsonian Institution has quite a few of them, and they show some of the collection from time to time.

  • by wmspringer ( 569211 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:26PM (#14755102) Homepage Journal
    At 1.5 million RPM this means a molecule on the surface of the sphere would be travelling something like 4.7 million meters/second.

    Google kindly provided 299 792 458 m / s as the speed of light which means to me that the molecules of the sphere are already traveling faster than light.

    4.7 million is more than 299 million?
  • Stark contrast.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mavenguy ( 126559 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:32PM (#14755376) how this space drive patent application [] was treated. When this earlier patent was discussed on Slashdot [] I made a comment [] discussing how the patent just sailed through without a single question being raised about operability.

    The difference? I can't really determine the exact reasons, not being privy to the cirumstances surrounding the prosecution of each application, but one fact is that each was examined by a different examiner. I can speculate on the disparity of treatment, however. It is another fallout from PTO management's 30+ years of emphasis on meeting production and timeliness goals over substantive quality aspects of examination, quality meaning finding and applying relevant prior art and passing judgement on issues such as operability (I don't include aspects such as including software and business methods as patentable subject matter or creating a high standard of proof to support obviousness rejections, since these have been imposed externally by the courts).

    The PTO's response to issues of quality has been to establish an entire subbeaurocrocy dedicated to "Quality Review", which has all the pitfalls of centralizing such essential values outside of the main operation. The main failure is how one expects a small core of people, no matter how expert they are in the examination process, to possess the same depth of knowledge as even a mediocre examiner in a give art. PTO management then compounds this with a punitive aspect; if QR "kicks back" an application the examiner will get charged with an error, yet the QR reviewer doesn't have the same kind of production pressure as the working examiner to grind out cases; telling someone "you should have spent more time searching this case" isn't particularly helpful if it doesn't explain how one chooses the other applications from which this time should have been taken.

    The negative publicity concerning examination quality has, finally, reached the attention of PTO's upper level management, but, it is an open question if they will recognize that just heaping more "review" on the process will not actually result in an improvment, but that a fundamental return to the ethic of a genuine quality examination is the way to go.
  • Re:Dumb question (Score:3, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:38PM (#14755401)
    20 years. A lot of things are not patented because of the time restriction i.e. the Coke formula. People use trade secrets instead.

  • Re:Dumb question (Score:5, Informative)

    by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:48PM (#14755457) Homepage
    For patents being filed now, they last 20 years from the date they were filed. This is plenty of time to get to market, and remember that you may be able to make improvements and get patents on them so that even when the first patent runs out, you've moved on and your competitors are still in a less advantageous position. Likewise, the reputation you build while you have the patent can provide you with an advantage in the future. For example, patents on drugs such as prozac or viagra will eventually expire, making generics available, but many people will stick with the brand-names they're used to, even if they have to pay more for exactly the same thing.
  • by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @05:37PM (#14756496) Journal
    More so when you read the fine print and realize that the patent was filed by 3D Realms []!

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