Inventor Claims He Got Patent 20 Years After Filing... But Details Missing
from the patent-what? dept
So I went looking for the patent... and I can't find it (Updated below).
But the story continues to be bizarre. According to the article:
The patent lets Weinstein move forward with commercial development of his supermagnets that, when chilled to super-low temperatures, can produce a field with the strength of 2 tesla, billions of times stronger than the magnet on your refrigerator.The implication here, of course, is that for the past 20 years, this technology could not have been commercialized without the patent -- but that's ridiculous. Of course you can commercialize without a patent, and if the cost savings are really so incredible, there would have been tons of ways to make money, even sans patent. On top of that, it sounds like his other patents may be in the same basic field, so if he was really worried about protection, why not use those patents as well? But the whole claim that he couldn't commercialize for all this time just doesn't add up. And, frankly, if it's true that he decided to not do anything with this supposedly amazing technology just because he couldn't get a patent on it, it would make him an incredibly spiteful man to purposely deny the world some useful technology.
Weinstein's magnets are about the size of a stack of five dimes, weigh an ounce, and cost $300. Commercially available electromagnets that can produce a comparable magnetic field weigh two tons and cost $60,000 to $100,000, he says.
Weinstein said he is developing a $7 million agreement with Round Rock-based TECO-Westinghouse Motor Co. to construct a 1 megawatt motor that will be a prototype for a 10 megawatt version. The company declined comment.I've done plenty of business deals in my time, and I've never heard of anyone publicly announcing to the press the terms of a deal before the deal was signed -- especially a deal like a $7 million agreement with a single inventor. Perhaps such a deal is being worked on, but let's see what actually comes out of the negotiations first.
The story also claims that the patent only got approved when Roy's son started schmoozing the patent examiner in question, and apparently wore him down on the idea that the idea may have been obvious considering how many products already used similar technologies:
Instead of communicating by letters, Lee Weinstein called the patent examiner directly and struck up a relationship. He assuaged the examiner's concerns that a patent for the magnet would cover too many existing technologies and might restrict billions of dollars in trade.This seems rather insulting to the patent examiner in question, but also highlights how if you talk a good game, apparently the USPTO is willing to grant you patents.
"To be honest, this is an area of science that almost certainly a patent examiner wouldn't understand," Lee Weinstein said. "It's deep physics. I tried to help him understand that by granting a claim this wasn't reaching out and covering some technology it shouldn't cover."
Anyway, it seems like there are lots of holes in this story.