No patent for “perpetual motion” machine

Peter Crowley v Comptroller General Of Patents

This judgment related to an appeal from a decision of the IPO to refuse Mr Crowley’s United Kingdom Patent Application No. 0819309.6.

This case is one in a long line of decisions relating to whether it is possible to obtain patent protection for perpetual motion machines.

The patent application in question related to a machine that allegedly generated more output energy than the input energy it required.

The application was initially refused for two reasons. Firstly, the IPO examiner found that the invention contradicted the laws of thermodynamics and was therefore devoid of any industrial application. Secondly, the IPO examiner found that the disclosure of the application was insufficient in the sense that it would be impossible for the skilled person to put into effect an invention that contradicted the laws of thermodynamics. At first instance, the IPO Hearing Officer upheld the IPO examiner’s decision to refuse the application, confirming that it indeed contradicted the laws of thermodynamics.

Mann J dismissed the appeal, finding no faults in the analysis and conclusion of the Hearing Officer. In particular, the judge identified several shortcomings of the application, including the lack of a proper consideration of the causes of energy loss and the incorrect assumption that the force of gravity is external to the system that encompasses the machine, and commented that:

Mr Crowley may be correct in his description of the potentially continuous nature of the operation of the machine if Mr Crowley were to take it into a world which is an ideal world… However, Mr Crowley and the rest of us do not live in such a world.

Case No. [2014] EWHC 3871 (Ch)