How many patents are granted for perpetual motion machine so far?

A perpetual motion machine is one which generates sufficient energy to continue operating, and does not require input of energy from an outside source. Thus it would go on operating perpetually. It means creating “Something out of nothing!” If the laws of physics are true then it is not possible.

Patents office of the USA, considered to be the largest organization of its kind, does not accept any application for patenting a perpetual motion machine as a matter of policy based on the established scientific principles. Starting with only 3 patents in 1970, the year of its establishment, and 33 patents in the following year, the overall score of patents granted by it till the year 2000 has surpassed the figure of 47,00,000. Out of this plethora, only one patent has been granted for perpetual motion machine in 1979 to its inventor Howard R. Johnson who had claimed that his machine was self-powered which produced its own energy from ordinary magnets to keep its main wheel rotating.

The news of this patent caused a sensation throughout America. Industrialists competed to meet Johnson. One of them offered 100,00,000 dollars to buy patent rights of the machine. But spurning the offer Howard Johnson declared, “I do not want to sell. I know that petroleum companies want to buy my invention through their agents to lock it away in the safe, so that their mineral oil business does not collapse. I intend to equip every American home with a wheel to bring an end to energy problems facing the nation.” That a man can spurn allure of great wealth surprised the Americans but this philanthropic declaration added to the attraction of Johnson’s invention. ‘The New York Times’ congratulated this patriotic inventor for selflessness in an editorial. The periodical ‘Science and Mechanics’ printed an in depth article elucidating the working of Johnson’s invention.

However, after some time the bubble burst as it was bound to. American Patent Office acknowledged its blunder of having conferred the patent on the examination of blueprint only and regretted publicly. It also made a rule that the inventor must demonstrate a practical model of perpetual motion machine when applying for its patent. Howard Johnson had never made a model of that crucial wheel of permanent magnets. He tried later but failed condemned by fate to suffer ignominy for grandiose utterances.

More reading:
Perpetual motion (Wikipedia)
Patent (Wikipedia)

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