The BlackLight Power Patent Mystery
by Steven B. Krivit
Published July 7, 2008, in New Energy Times Blog
Scheduled for publication July 10, 2008, in New Energy Times Magazine
[This article is Copyleft 2008 New Energy Times. Permission is granted to reproduce this article as long as the article, this notice and the publication information shown above are included in their entirety and no changes are made to this article.]
On May 28, Blacklight Power issued a press release: “The company has successfully developed a prototype power system generating 50,000 watts of thermal power on demand.” This got quite a few New Energy Times readers talking about BlackLight’s intellectual property.
BlackLight’s Business Page gives the impression that the company owns a significant global portfolio of potentially valuable intellectual property.
“BlackLight Power has built an extensive patent portfolio worldwide related to its power source, power systems, a new class of chemistry, new chemical processes, new light sources, and new laser media,” the BlackLight site states.
A mystery revolves around this alleged “extensive patent portfolio worldwide” of Blacklight Power, the brainchild of hydrogen-energy inventor Randell Mills.
Mills has two U.S. patents issued and assigned to BlackLight: 7,188,033 is for a computer software program, and 6,024,935, which issued on Feb. 15, 2000, is titled “Lower-Energy Hydrogen Methods and Structures.
On June 28, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to withdraw a pending BlackLight patent application. This matter caused quite a stir, but it is a subject for another time.
Many New Energy Times readers who have closely followed BlackLight for years referred New Energy Times to a Web site called Rex Research. They said this Web site shows that BlackLight has been granted many patents in many countries.
The Web site is operated by Robert A. Nelson, who provides a most peculiar “Curriculum Vitaemin Supplementum.” New Energy Times spoke with Nelson; he does not claim to have scientific credentials but has an interesting story to tell about the origin of Rex Research.
One day many years ago, he was walking up Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, Calif., and he got the idea that he could make a lot of money by manufacturing LSD. So he went to the biochemistry library at University of California, Berkeley, to learn how. He eventually learned but, more important, in the course of doing so, he developed skills in scientific information research.
Nelson has a page dedicated to Mills’ Hydrinos. He devotes the top part of the page to Mills’ U.S. patent #6,024,935. The “Other References” - to “cold fusion” - are fascinating. This is an interesting juxtaposition because news stories about Mills include references to “cold fusion” as if “cold fusion” were something entirely discredited and scientifically different from Mills’ so-called “hydrino” technology.
Things begin to get strange farther down the Rex Research page, under the heading “European Patent Office List of Blacklight Power Patents.” Nelson evidently has mistaken patent applications and Patent Cooperation Treaty/World Intellectual Property Organization applications for issued patents. They are not the same.
Why has BlackLight not corrected the significant mischaracterizations of its patent portfolio that appear on the Rex Research Web site? Specifically, many items are inaccurately labeled patents rather than patent applications. The listings of so-called patents on that Web site include dozens of such errors.
On March 14, Blacklight suffered a setback in the United Kingdom when one of its patent applications was rejected at the conclusion of an appeals process within the U.K. patent office.
Another U.K. patent rejection resulted in a hearing on April 17. Hearing Officer P. Marchant found BlackLight’s evidence for independent laboratory verification weak, and Marchant was not willing to rely, alternatively, on Mill’s theory for substantive evidence for the BlackLight claims.
Of 114 papers provided as references by BlackLight to Marchant, he identified 15 papers that met his initial criteria of “independent.” Marchant wrote that much in the remaining 15 papers, “while there is no reason to doubt the work or views represented, … cannot be considered entirely independent.”
The July 10 issue of New Energy Times will discuss the matter of Backlight’s independent validations in more detail.
As New Energy Times said in Special Report on Bubble Fusion/Sonofusion, the work of Purdue University professor Rusi Taleyarkhan, the matter of independence is a delicate yet crucial issue in science.
Low-energy nuclear reaction researcher Edmund Storms, formerly with Los Alamos National Laboratory and now working with Brian Scanlan of KivaLabs of Greenwich, CT, offered an explanation for the Blacklight rejection.
“After reading the decision of the patent examiner,” Storms wrote, “my impression is that the patent was rejected for good reason. The rejection argument is not that the theory is wrong but that Mills is trying to patent a theory and its application to calculating electron states.
“This would be like having a patent for using the Laws of Thermodynamics to calculate reaction energies. Imagine having to pay a fee to the patent holder each time a person attempted to use the patented methods. It is my understanding that a theory cannot be patented. Why do people keep trying? Patents are granted when a theory is reduced to practice in the form of a working device.”
Now about the “extensive patent portfolio worldwide” mentioned on the BlackLight site. The European Patent Office search engine lists 174 results for “mills and randell” as the applicant or inventor. Those which New Energy Times checked were not issued patents. They were merely Patent Cooperation Treaty/World Intellectual Property Organization patent applications - in other words, patents pending.
The distinction is crucial from a business and financial perspective. Patent applications have nowhere near the potential value, particularly for licensing purposes, of issued patents. Intellectual property licensees rarely provide significant funding or make royalty agreements with another company on the basis of patents that have not issued.
The BlackLight site also states, “The process, systems, and compositions of matter are covered by patents pending and issued in dozens of countries.”
The language in this statement is curious. A pending patent provides no protection of any intellectual property rights unless and until a patent is issued. It is the act of issuing a patent that confers value on it. Its granting and issuance by a government patent office creates the possibility of realizing financial value from it as proprietary intellectual property.
BlackLight’s “Business Overview” refers to “patents issued in U.S. and abroad.” Yet the BlackLight Web site does not show any of these claimed patents, leaving readers to wonder exactly what composes BlackLight’s worldwide portfolio of issued patents.
We went to the source.
But first we listened Mills’ statements on a May 6, 2006, radio interview.
In this interview, Mills explained that one of the biggest problems he and his company faced is the matter of disbelief. “Too good to be true” is the mental hurdle that Mills said he must often overcome with skeptics.
“To respond to that,” Mills said, “we’ve published over 65 journal articles, we’ve presented over 50 presentations at international scientific meetings, we’ve built prototypes, we have 50 independent validation reports [and] we have demonstration devices here running.”
At the end of the interview, Mills makes a warm and open invitation to the public to visit BlackLight.
“In terms of helping us, if you’re in business or you’re in science, either pass the word, come in - contact us - come in here, measure this, get involved with it, or pass it on to someone else who is in business or in science and tell them to take a look at our Web page and tell them to come on down and measure it for themselves.”
New Energy Times contacted BlackLight to arrange a visit.
We eventually heard back from Mills and his associate Michael Sabel. No, they were not interested in scheduling an on-site visit with New Energy Times. Sabel told New Energy Times on June 12 that they were interested in meeting with companies wanting to perform “due diligence,” implying that they were only interested in hosting visits to companies interested in investing in BlackLight or perhaps licensing some of its proprietary intellectual property.
New Energy Times learned that CNN/Money visited BlackLight about three weeks ago and wrote a story last week which includes a photo of Mills holding one of his demonstration devices.
In the CNN/Money interview, Mills complained to journalist Mina Klimes that people are “spreading disinformation on the Web.” This is ironic because, in the radio interview, Mills suggests that people wanting to know more about the technology should go to the BlackLight Web page and because one of the most popular fan sites of BlackLight is mischaracterizing BlackLight’s patent portfolio.
Back to the matter at hand: With all of these questions about issued versus pending patents, we decided to inquire at the source. We sent an e-mail to Sabel on July 2, and after not receiving any response the next day, we sent a second e-mail to Sable and Mills.
In the e-mails, we asked whether there are any other issued BlackLight patents besides 7,188,033 and 6,024,935. As of noon July 7, we received no response.
Also on July 7, New Energy Times called the BlackLight offices. We spoke with a staffperson in Mills’ office. Mills was unavailable for the remainder of the day, and Sabel wasn’t available until July 10.
Intellectual property matters aside, New Energy Times has reason to believe that some legitimate science and potential technology probably is behind Mill’s and Blacklight Power’s work; see our forthcoming article in issue #29 on July 10.
Bob Park, the inimitable former spokesman for the American Physical Society has been less charitable. In his July 4 “What’s New,” he raises similar questions about BlackLight’s so-called extensive worldwide intellectual property holdings and called them a “Hydrino Scam.”