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Old 14-09-2014, 21:33   #1
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Watermakers - Is the Market about to Change?

So... Since ditching TV in our house, I sometimes get bored and research things that pique my interest. Well today I decided to research the "Clark Pump" from Spectra water makers. I wanted a better description of how it worked than offered by the Spectra website. Digging deeper, lead me to the original patent filed by Clark Permar and I found a very interesting thing. That patent was filed on January 19, 1995. Which means... It will be expiring in January of 2015.

Now, I can only imagine that the other water maker companies know this. Could this mean we will see a bunch of new competition next year? Heck.. If I owned a water maker company, you could bet I would have bought a Clark Pump from Spectra and sent it to China to be copied. You wouldn't even have to do that, the Patent filing is very well written and detailed (as patents should be). Here is hoping that someone at a water maker company has their eye on this... cough cough third day....

Anyway.. More research led to a couple of interesting facts. A second patent was filed in May of 1996, but I can't see the difference from the first one. They look almost identical, but the second one references the first one. My understanding of patent law (I have a patent myself) is the first patent would be the valid filing date. So once that first patent expires, then its free game.

It also appears that Spectra purchased the patent rights in 2009 from Mr. Permar after a court dispute. 275K for an outright purchase, not a bad payday for Clark.

Here are the reference materials. Its an interesting read.

First Patent.
Patent US5462414 - Liquid treatment apparatus for providing a flow of pressurized liquid - Google Patents

Second Patent.
Patent US5628198 - Liquid treatment apparatus for filtering liquid under pressure - Google Patents

Court Filing
Document 71 :: Permar v. Spectra Watermakers, Inc. :: 4:2009cv00972 :: California Northern District Court :: US Federal District Courts Cases :: Justia
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Old 14-09-2014, 22:49   #2
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

If it's a "utility patent", as you suggest (20 years), then it can be maintained for a periodic fee. It would be foolish not to renew on such a good product.
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Old 14-09-2014, 23:05   #3
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

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If it's a "utility patent", as you suggest (20 years), then it can be maintained for a periodic fee. It would be foolish not to renew on such a good product.
I'm not sure where you heard that... A utility patent is good for 20 years as long as you pay the maintenance fees. Once 20 years passes, it is expired and can only be extended for special reasons (i.e. administration delays).

Here is the wikipedia article on it.
Term of patent in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 14-09-2014, 23:13   #4
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

Wiki?

Try a gov site: How long does patent, trademark or copyright protection last? | STOPfakes.gov
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Old 14-09-2014, 23:39   #5
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
I believe the maintenence fees are paid to enforce the patent UPTO 20 years, not beyond. If you don't pay at 3.5 years, 7.5 years and 11.5 years from the date of issue it ends after a grace period. Apparently at 20 years you can't maintain it any longer.

Brown & Michaels - "How To Determine Patent Term"

It'd be nice if the patent expiration leads to more competition!
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Old 14-09-2014, 23:41   #6
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I'm not sure where you heard that... A utility patent is good for 20 years as long as you pay the maintenance fees. Once 20 years passes, it is expired and can only be extended for special reasons (i.e. administration delays).

Here is the wikipedia article on it.
Term of patent in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
So they are both saying the same thing, 20 years, and it's up.
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Old 14-09-2014, 23:46   #7
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

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The website you provided has the exact same information..
"A U.S. utility patent, explained above, is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent."

Maintain, not extend. Which means.. Its good for 20 years as long as you pay the periodic fees. This does not mean you can pay fees and have the patent extended beyond 20 years (believe me, I would love that as I have a patent). If that was the case, Boeing would still be paying the Wright brothers to build air planes..

This particular patent was filed before June 8, 1995 so it is subject to this rule.
"For patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, the term of patent is either 20 years from the earliest filing date as above (excluding provisional applications) or 17 years from the issue date, whichever is longer. Extensions may be had for certain administrative delays."

Earliest filing date is January, 1995. That patent will expire in January of 2015. Once expired, no one can be excluded from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States.
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Old 14-09-2014, 23:46   #8
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

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Originally Posted by redpointist View Post
I believe the maintenence fees are paid to enforce the patent UPTO 20 years, not beyond. If you don't pay at 3.5 years, 7.5 years and 11.5 years from the date of issue it ends after a grace period. Apparently at 20 years you can't maintain it any longer.

Brown & Michaels - "How To Determine Patent Term"
Guess I'd make a lousy lawyer. Can't read between the lines!

Like to know when they fingernail clippers patent expired.
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Old 16-09-2014, 04:06   #9
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

water maker desal filters are going to change. What was a 12 inch thick filter is now being made with graphene at a thickness of a sheet of paper to get the job done. Imagine what this will do for the filter makers.
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Old 16-09-2014, 07:49   #10
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

I've also heard R & D is being done on low pressure membranes. If/when those trickle down to the consumer market then devices like the Clarkson Pump would be unecessary.
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Old 16-09-2014, 08:30   #11
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

The concept of the Clark pump has been around for a long time. Check out Kimray glycol pumps. Good working explanation.
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Old 16-09-2014, 08:44   #12
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

That is very interesting.. That glycol pump does appear very similar, not exactly the same, but close. In fact its close enough that it would probably invalidate the clark pump patent I posted earlier. It appears Kimray patented that design in the late sixties.

Of course someone with deep enough pockets would have to challenge the patent in court, citing prior art making the clark patent "not novel".

I have also heard about low pressure membranes using both graphene and nano tubes. I would guess that those innovations are at least 7-10 years away before being readily available. Then there will be the standard teething issues common with new innovation. Frankly, the current high pressure thick membranes will be with us for quite a while.

I'm pretty confident we will see some strong competition in the next 1 or 2 years.
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Old 16-09-2014, 09:49   #13
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

My understand is that the spinning hard drive was obsoleted years ago, but as it keeps falling in price compared to storage capacity, it's still with us.
Another way of saying that for new tech to become common, it has to be economically viable as well.
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Old 16-09-2014, 10:16   #14
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

dosent really mater if the pump is avalable within a year or so to anyone to build including china.. Many other units are on the market that compete with the clark pump.
and comming from china, we've all seen what happens with quality products being farmed out to be built in china.. do we need to bring up anchors for instance..
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Old 16-09-2014, 10:27   #15
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Re: Watermakers - Is the market about to change?

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dosent really mater if the pump is avalable within a year or so to anyone to build including china.. Many other units are on the market that compete with the clark pump.
and comming from china, we've all seen what happens with quality products being farmed out to be built in china.. do we need to bring up anchors for instance..
Please post some links to examples.. I know of no other pumps on the market that compete with the clark pump. There are lots of pressure pumps on the market, but they do not compete with the clark pump. There is no other system that can produce the pressures required at that low wattage.
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