Technoturkey: Patent failure to exploit invention
Barry Fox looks at ill-fated schemes and dreams
THE Church of Scientology is to advertise on TV. One of the
organisation's key tools is the mysterious E-meter, invented by
founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard. The organisation's sales office in
Tottenham Court Road, London, says they cost anything between £500 and
When Hubbard invented the E-Meter he claimed legal monopoly on the
idea by filing a British patent (943 012). The document lay largely
unnoticed among millions of other patents on library shelves. In 1975
it was due to expire of old age, and the church took the unusual step
of petitioning the High Court.
Under British law at the time, the court was able to grant extensions,
but only in very exceptional circumstances. The invention had to be of
extraordinary cleverness, with the inventor not adequately remunerated
and through no fault of his own.
The E-meter invention did not seem particularly clever. It looked a
lot like an ordinary galvanic skin response lie detector. A
transistorised bridge circuit was balanced to give an accurate dial
readout of body resistance when the subject held a pair of electrodes.
Low resistance signalled mind control with lack of sweating.
To fight the case the organisation had to show detailed accounts to
prove it had tried hard to exploit the invention but had failed. In
1976 the Treasury Solicitors, who were instructed by the Patent Office
to protect the public interest by contesting extensions of monopoly,
confirmed that the church had withdrawn the petition instead of
providing the accounts. The patent died that July, leaving DIYers free
to read the circuit diagram and build their own
Sue, SP4(:), listed on the Scieno Sitter list 5 times!
"It will take a *long* time to find another enemy
with the combination of evil and incompetence
you see in Scientology."--Keith Henson