Business Day - Business Law and Tax Review - - BUSINESS LAW & TAX REVIEW -

for an in­ven­tion en­ti­tled Im­prove­ments in or con­nected with self­driv­ing power ma­chines wherein os­cil­la­tory mo­tion is trans­formed into ro­tary mo­tion, which hap­pened to de­scribe a per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chine. The patent ex­am­iner was of the view that the ap­pli­ca­tion be re­fused on the ground that it was im­pos­si­ble to work the in­ven­tion from the de­scrip­tion in the spec­i­fi­ca­tion and that the re­sults al­leged to be ob­tained were con­trary to known laws of me­chan­ics.

The find­ings were ap­pealed and dur­ing the hear­ing the ap­pli­cant ex­pressed will­ing­ness to file a work­ing model to prove his case. Noth­ing was heard from the ap­pli­cant or his agent af­ter the orig­i­nal hear­ing. It was as­sumed the ap­pli­cant was un­able to con­struct the ap­pa­ra­tus and the ap­pli- cation was sub­se­quently re­jected.

In terms of South African law it is a re­quire­ment, as in the TS Patents case, that a com­plete spec­i­fi­ca­tion shall suf­fi­ciently de­scribe, as­cer­tain and, where nec­es­sary, il­lus­trate or ex­em­plify the in­ven­tion and the man­ner in which it is to be per­formed.

In the case of a per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chine, the de­scrip­tion of the in­ven­tion can­not ful­fil this re­quire­ment. If the in­ven­tion can­not be worked, how on earth can it be use­ful?

In ad­di­tion to be­ing re­jected on the grounds of sec­tion 36 (1)(a), it should be ar­gued that per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chines should be re­jected on the ground of hav­ing no in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­bil­ity. It is for this rea­son, and to pre­vent con­tin­u­ous cases re­lat­ing to per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chines, that the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions were adopted.

There are other in­ven­tions that are also con­sid­ered con­trary to well es­tab­lished nat­u­ral laws, but per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chines are the most com­mon. In­no­va­tors and in­ven­tors will con­tinue to work on in­ven­tions in what seems to be a dead-end field, but the pur­suit of the im­pos­si­ble in terms of our un­der­stand­ing of the laws of physics and na­ture is par­tic­u­larly al­lur­ing to many. It will be a con­tin­u­ous up­hill bat­tle to ob­tain a patent for a per­pet­ual mo­tion ma­chine, even with a work­ing pro­to­type.

In the end, how­ever, many patentable in­ven­tions could be dis­cov­ered in the search for per­pet­ual mo­tion. Per­pet­ual mo­tion may be im­pos­si­ble now, but we never know what the fu­ture may hold.

Pic­ture: iSTOCK

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