Godly Powers: A Mystical US Patent Application

I’m going to take a break today from visiting obscure search systems (and writing long 2-part posts) to share with you a delightful patent application that I  hold very close to my heart.  I usually don’t spend my spare time reading the image file wrappers of US patent applications in PAIR,  but I will openly admit that I spent a solid two hours one Saturday morning reading the entire file for US Application No. 11/161,345.

After the jump, discover the secrets of 11/161,345, a.k.a “Godly Powers!”

On the surface, US application 11/161,345 looks unassuming. A quick keyword search on Google Patents retrieves a rather dull looking cover page, without any images to illustrate the insanity hidden within the text.  The publication number for the published US patent application is US2007/0035812 A1, and the inventor/assignee Christopher Anthony Roller has titled the invention “Godly Powers.”

Front page of the "godly powers" patent application, via Google Patents.

So what exactly is the gist of the invention?  Let’s take a quick look at the abstract:

Christopher Anthony Roller is a godly entity. “Granters” had been given my powers (acquired my powers) (via God probably). These “granters” have been receiving financial gain from godly powers. These “granters” may be using their powers without morals. Chris Roller wants exclusive right to the ethical use and financial gain in the use of godly powers on planet Earth. The design of godly-products have no constraints, just like any other invention, but the ethnic consideration of it’s use will likely be based on a majority vote of a group, similar to law creation. The commission I require could range from 0-100% of product price, depending on the product’s value and use.

So this gentleman is granted godly powers (via God, probably), and he wants us to pay 0-100% for the product of his divine designs?  Ok, sounds reasonable.  But wait, the claims make this document even more intriguing:

7. From claim 1 and 6, some grantees may be using their powers without morals.

8. Claim 1 is proved via David Copperfield, who has been using godly powers for his financial gain (MN Federal case 05-446JRT/FLN) and hiding knowledge of godly powers as stated in claim 7.

There’s a federal court case against David Copperfield?!  I just had to read more.  It was like reading the first chapter of a book; I couldn’t stop at the cliffhanger.  Luckily, this saga is freely accessible via the public PAIR portal.  Just visit the portal, prove your humanity by typing the verification code, search for Application Number 11161345, and you’re there.

The "godly powers" US patent application in PAIR.

First of all, to the patent examiner Tod Van Roy who had to handle this application: I salute you, sir. Now, let’s look at the Image File Wrapper and some sample quotes from the documents of this one-of-a-kind case:

  • 3/17/08- Non-Final Rejection, page 7 of PDF- “The specification has not described how one of ordinary skill in the art could make or use the claimed godly powers.”
  • 6/09/2008 – Applicant Arguments/Remarks Made in an Amendment, page 2 of PDF- “Like software, godly powers is a method, and affects a machine.  Like business methods, godly powers produces a useful, concrete, and tangible result, and that should be all that’s needed for statutory material.”
  • 7/14/2008 –  Miscellaneous Incoming Letter (a copy of the David Copperfield lawsuit), page 3 of PDF in cliff notes- You just have to see this for yourself:

Tom Hanks?

So, in conclusion: if you have some free time, skim this file history for an hour or so to learn about the incredible saga of Christopher Roller’s attempt to patent his godly powers. Has anyone found a file in PAIR more interesting than this one? Let us know in the comments!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

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31 Responses

  1. [...] run-of-the-mill crazy – I mean truly. bat shit crazy. Like Christopher Anthony Roller, who is trying to patent his ‘Godly’ powers. That’s right – he wants the USPTO to grant him a patent [...]

  2. This is truly entertaining.

    It appears to be a sarcastic patent application. The way it is worded (…God, probably) seems to indicate that the filer doesn’t fully believe in his powers, but wishes to patent them all the same.

    Surely if people running the patent office are superstitious enough to believe in magic (miracles) then they must be willing to patent such unverifiable powers.

    Hopefully Christopher gets his patent, and there will be a fewer televangelists raping the superstitious elderly for blood money, unless they’re paying royalties… like a “d-bag tax”.

  3. Mr. Rollers wants exclusive rights to these powers on planet earth. Unfortunately the USPTO only has powers to grant that within the USA. He’ll need to file patents with other patent offices to have planetary protection. However, he only has a year from filing in the USA to do that elsewhere or he’ll be trapped by his tardiness. Then his godly powers can be freely used by anyone outside the US (assuming his patent is granted).

  4. Speaking as someone who shares a house with a loved one suffering from schizophrenia, this article is not as amusing to me as it probably is to you. Our schizophrenic has at various times believed himself to be the Dali Lama, the Son of God or at least a Prophet of The Lord. He regularly converses with blue people, and will often pepper normal conversations with completely non-sequiteur questions that one of his blue people is asking. His more dangerous delusions have included the belief that he would have to kill all the non-believers or that he must go forth to gather his believers and rule the world, leaving home on foot without so much as packing lunch for his journey. (This is how so many people with this disease end up wandering homeless and and muttering). Fortunately, new medications have now enabled him to remain out of the hospital for nine months, giving us hope that he may someday be able to live an almost normal life.

    Although I understand how these delusions appear comical to people who aren’t familiar with the disease, making light of the symptomatic expressions of people with schizophrenia is, nevertheless, the equivalent of mocking a sufferer of Tourette’s, or mimicking the spastic gait of a sufferer of cerebral palsy. Easy, low humor well suited to the tastes of gradeschool boys.

    No one wants to include themselves in a class of people who are the butt of jokes. Stigmatization of people with schizophrenia makes it just that much harder for someone suffering from the disorder to seek treatment. Regrettably, between 1% and 2% of the population is afflicted by schizoaffective disorder to some degree. This means you probably know someone who hears voices or has delusions. But because of the stigma, they hide their symptoms. They may well end up continuing to avoid treatment as a result of reading your article.

    • Thank you for sharing your viewpoint on this article, I meant no offense to anyone suffering from schizophrenia and I hope that this post won’t deter people from seeking the help they need. I think that what is humorous about this situation is the bureaucratic, dry response from the USPTO. I truly hope Mr. Roller got the treatment he needed in the end.

    • As a nurse, I couldn’t agree more with you on the comment you have written here. At first glance this does seem like schizophrenia to me as well, and it’s sad that people let him appear on tv shows instead of actually trying to get him the help he needs. :(

  5. [...] the applicant argues, ‘like software, godly powers is a method, and affects a machine. Like business methods, godly powers produces a useful, concrete, and tangible result, and that should be all that’s needed for statutory material.’” One of the [...]

  6. Another inventor who actually just needs a refill on his medication … not unlike Reverend Izzo and his “Resurrection Burial Tomb” https://tools.patentcalls.com/patent/20050027316

  7. Wait a minute, this is a patent application dated Feb 15, 2007! Also, I don’t dispute the afflications aluded to by schizophrenia by the previous poster. Although I do question how it is possible that someone with such an illness can articulate a patent application?

  8. I too have a relative with Schizophrenia although perhaps at this time she has passed away. But I think this is funny as hell. Bat poop crazy people do amazingly stupid things that are laughable. Fat people (of which I am one) also get laughed at a lot. And atheists mock fundies. And christians mock other religions. So we all laugh at others that are different. Humor is indeed often demeaning. Because of this there are forms of humor that I don’t appreciate personally but I shake my head at myself and tell myself to get an effing life.
    Having said that, I don’t think the OP did much of anything to laugh at the person. The situation is humorous in itself. Any personal claim of godly powers or clairvoyance or ghosts is humorous to those who realize there are no such things. I laugh at anyone who things they are psychic. To make a patent claim is funny as heck, without regard to the persons own potential psychological state. That situation may be worthy of compassion and caring, and I don’t doubt it is. But it still makes for humor in terms of the actions that result even if they OP didn’t make light of this. It could easily be a part of a stand up comedic performance. Did you hear the one about the kid with no arms or legs…. funny can be cruel.

    • Yes, schoolboys can be seen tripping cripples and laughing as they struggle to get back up. They can be heard pointing at a fat person and taunting them with derogatory names. This behavior is not out of the ordinary, and these schoolboys find their humor “funny as heck”, but it is something we expect they will outgrow as they gain experience of the world.

      If you still find such puerile cruelty “funny as heck”, then perhaps you might benefit from spending time volunteering at a shelter or taking a hitch in the Peace Corps. Although it may dull your appreciation of some of the humor you now find hilarious, you can expect such experience will repay you with greater empathy and wisdom.

      I agree that Joelle Mornini’s post was not overt mocking derision, but it was definitely of the “get a load of this guy!’ sort of rib-poking and pointing variety. For most of us, it is astonishing to see someone whose brain is that bent, and odder still to see how his mind can be so obviously wrong and yet able to converse intelligibly. I understand how this novelty makes it entertaining, in a carnival freak-show kind of way. Yet I suspect you can imagine how daily contact with this sort of illness quickly extinguishes all sense of marvel and replaces it with sadness and lingering dread of what’s to come, every time a delusion is expressed.

  9. Two years ago the application was “Abandoned — Failure to Respond to an Office Action” so we don’t need to worry about it being issued and any US exclusivity being awarded.

  10. [...] While on the subject of barminess, we learn that one Christopher Anthony Roller has applied to patent Godly Powers in the US. [...]

  11. Gregory, I certainly understand your point and sympathize with your goals. The mentally ill deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

    Wacky patents are a diversion for those in the industry because they often illustrate the absurdities of the patent system in a very different way than real cases usually can. The law treats everyone equally, and Mr. Roller had a right to file his application, although he may not be well. Part of what’s interesting to this community is the requisite legal back-and-forth that must be undergone before the case can be reasonably concluded. And as Joelle said, the novelty of seeing colorful material dealt with in dry legal documents does add some humor to the situation. I think of the joke as less personally directed to Mr.Roller and more situational – how would a patent examiner gracefully extricate himself when faced with this scenario.

    Another unintentional consequence of Mr. Roller’s application was his attempt to apply the legal precedent of the time, namely the State Street case, to an unusual “invention.” Although the State Street test isn’t valid precedent anymore, it is still an interesting attempt to rely on it to justify something that should obviously be unpatentable, and patent industry folks do find that sort of thing interesting to construct mock arguments over. It’s all part of the larger question of what can really be called an invention.

    The situation of those dealing with mental illness is extremely sad. I hope if Mr. Roller does recover, he’ll realize that his illness doesn’t reflect poorly on him, and maybe someday be able to appreciate the lighter side. Thank you for pointing out the human element of the issue, and I second Joelle in hoping that anyone suffering from a mental illness should not be deterred from seeking the help they need.

  12. [...] Godly Powers: A Mystical US Patent Application I’m going to take a break today from visiting obscure search systems (and writing long 2-part posts) to share with [...] [...]

  13. So some guy with powers from God can’t get the job done and expects the US Patent Office to help out? Hey, if omnipotent God’s dropping the ball, well, you’re just screwed. There is no government program for this problem.

  14. I am a little surprised the PTO did not respond with all the prior art as well. How can one leave out Moses and the Red Sea, or countless other historical acts that defied explanation. (wink, wink.)

  15. As a former patent examiner, I’d say it’d be great to get this application to work on, regardless of Applicant’s mental state, because it would be quick business. Unpatentable under 35 USC 102(f): “he did not himself invent the subject matter sought to be patented” (God gave him the powers…); 35 USC 112, first paragraph: “The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same…” (Applicant does not explain how to replicate the powers…); and, for good measure, 35 USC 101: “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor…” (Godly powers are naturally occurring, and thus are not patentable; MPEP 706.03(a)).

  16. Thanks for all of the insightful comments, everyone! I didn’t think this post would start a discussion on the treatment of mental illness in the patent application process, but it was certainly eye-opening for me.

  17. [...] via Godly Powers: A Mystical US Patent Application « The Intellogist Blog. [...]

  18. [...] Godly Powers: A Mystical US Patent Application [...]

  19. Why would one with godly powers need the protection of the state to enforce their monopoly? Surely lightening bolts are more expedient?

  20. My ex-husband and my step-brother were both schizophrenics. When my step -brother said a squirrel ran off with the ketchup, I laughed really hard. My husband thought he could talk to worms and that the police were stalking him. He’d run through the nearby parks playing tag with his imaginary friends. I laughed at him a lot. Both of them had opportunities to have free psychiatry help and free medication. I stuck it out with my husband for fourteen years and did everything I could to get him help. He refused to be helped or to help himself. He wanted to be babied by the world. In the end, I laughed him off and out of my life. I laughed about Mr. Roller’s crazy antics, too. A man awhile back chopped the head off a fellow passenger on a bus because he said God commanded him to do so. I guess some of you people would feel sorry for the nut, but I felt sorry for the passenger. I Know the killer will just be hospitalized. It’s all the system’s fault for failing him. In my eyes, he’s murderer with what he thinks is an excuse for killing. Schizophrenics are no different than drug addicts and alcoholics. They have the choice to get better, but they just as often prefer to be sick. So, I’m going to laugh at them when they do silly crap and be angry when they hurt others because of their stupid delusions.

  21. [...] J’ai trouvé ce document sur le site Intellogiste [...]

  22. [...] the applicant argues, ‘like software, godly powers is a method, and affects a machine. Like business methods, godly powers produces a useful, concrete, and tangible result, and that should be all that’s needed for statutory [...]

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