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A patent pursuit: Joe Newman's 'energy machine'.

Normally, the floor of the Capital Centre in Largo, Md., rings with the clash of hockey sticks or the dribble of basketballs, but last week it played a small role in a different kind of battle--a long-running dispute between the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and inventor Joseph W. Newman. Newman claims that his "energy machine" generates more energy than it takes in from an "external" source such as a battery. The Patent and Trademark Office says his invention doesn't work and shouldn't get a patent.

Newman applied for a patent on his invention and the theory backing it in early 1979. Three years later, the Patent Office rejected his application, but Newman was unhappy with the way PTO had handled his case. Last year, he took the Patent Office to court.

At the first court hearing on Newman's suit, Judge Thomas P. Jackson, D.C., called for the appointment of a "Special Master" to evaluate Newman's machine. The PTO-nominated individual chosen to fill this role was William E. Schuyler Jr., a former PTO commissioner and an electrical engineer.

In his report, released last September, Schuyler states, "Evidence before the Patent and Trademark Office and this court is overwhelming that Newman has built and tested a prototype of his invention in which the output energy exceeds the external input energy; there is no contradictory factual evidence."

The judge, however, refused to accept the findings of the Special Master and in March ordered Newman to turn his machine over to the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) for testing. He left the final judgment on whether a patent should be granted with PTO. If Newman fails to comply with this order, the judge could rule that the inventor has abandoned his patent application.

Newman, objecting to the judge's "arbitrary and unlawful" order, fearing that NBS would not deal with him objectively and fairly, and questioning the competence of the Patent Office, instead decided to show off his machine in a public demonstration. For the occasion, he shipped a new, 9,000-pound prototype of the machine from his home in Lucedale, Miss., to the floor of the Capital Centre.

There he machine sat: a massive permanent magnet whirling within a giant copper coil large enough to fill the back of a station wagon, ostensibly receiving energy from an array of batteries providing less than 2 milliamperes of current yet producing enough energy to light up a flickering set of fluorescent and incandescent lights. Says Newman, "This invention speaks for itself."

Newman says he knew the machine would work before he built it. "This is not an accidental discovery," he insists. It simply demonstrates one consequence of his own-unconventional theory of electromagnetism.

In the mechanical model he uses to describe electromagnetism, Newman pictures magnetic lines of force as streams of spinning, "gyroscopic" particles that travel at the speed of light. His machine operates by taking advantage of these particles' kinetic energy--like putting a paddle wheel in a river, he says. To replace any energy lost or extracted, a tiny bit of atomic mass is converted into more spinning particles. Because some mass is converted into energy when his machine is running, Newman insists that his invention is not a perpetual-motion machine. If this mass loss is included, total energy is conserved.

This is not the kind of theory that most scientists can take seriously. Many dismiss Newman's ideas as nonsense and his machine as just another impossible perpetual-motion machine. A few, conceding that his ideas are very imaginative, complain that Newman, essentially self taught, fails to present his theory in the "language of physics," that is, in a mathematical form with accepted scientific notation.

Nevertheless, Newman has been able to persuade a small group of scientists and engineers that his invention is worth investigating. Several have seen and tested his machine.

Says Arnold R. Smythe Jr., a New Orleans consulting engineer, "Quite frankly, I really don't know why this machine works, but I do know that it works." Adds electrical engineer Gerald A. Miller of Fountain Valley, Calif., "Its doing things I don't understand ...But I can't walk away from it until I understand it."

Meanwhile, Newman has attracted a group ov investors who are helping him to fund his battle with the Patent Office. So far, he says, the ordeal, stretching over five years, has cost more than $100,000. Now, Newman faces another court hearing later this month. He would like the judge to grant him the "pioneering patent" he seeks, overruling the decision of the Patent Office.

For Newman, the dispute has turned into a crusade on behalf of all inventors against allegedly unjust actions by the Patent Office and the precedent that Judge Jackson's decision may set. "The law states what they should do," he says, "and they have not done it.

"I'm a fighter," he adds. "I'll fight like hell."
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Title Annotation:inventor fights for patent on machine that generates more energy than it takes in from external sources
Author:Peterson, Ivars
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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