U.S. Patent No. 8,014,433, issued on September 6, 2011 to Apollo Instruments of Irvine, CA, discloses a laser system with multiple spherical mirrors that pass a pump light beam multiple times between the mirrors.
According to the ’433 patent, the power of a laser beam can be increased by increasing the number of passes of the pump light through the lasing material. However, in existing systems, the number of passes is limited by the size and number of mirrors used to direct the pump light, as well as the complexity of the mechanical system used to support the many mirrors. The ’433 patent discloses a system and method that avoids the problems of other systems to direct the pump light through the lasing material many times by using a pair of optically-coupled imaging systems with non-coincident optical axes.
According to its website, Apollo Instruments manufactures and sells fiber-coupled laser diodes, fiber lasers, and other laser systems that ”press the limit of today’s power and brightness levels together with superior performance.” The website also explains that with the company’s “superior pumping source, fiber lasers delivering more than 300W in a high quality beam (TEM00) have been conveniently realized.”
The ’433 patent provides a lesson in the value of having a patent attorney prepare a patent application and represent the applicant before the USPTO. Apollo had first filed a patent application that one of the inventors prepared back in 2005. The USPTO allows inventors to prepare and file their own application and represent themselves before the USPTO (the Latin phrase is “pro se,” which means “on one’s own behalf”). However, the USPTO does not relax its rules regarding requirements for such applications. Even if it wanted to give a break to such pro se applicants, the USPTO is not permitted to apply the patent laws differently to different groups of applicants. Given the complexity of U.S. patent laws and the potential for destroying the possibility for obtaining patent protection, the aphorism that “a physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient” has a corollary in inventors serving as their own patent attorney/agent.
Upon reviewing Apollo’s first application in 2007, the USPTO found that it did not conform to the various requirements with regard to the information provided and the format in which this information is given. The application was rejected on a whole series of bases, both substantive and formality-based, and the USPTO noted that “applicant is unfamiliar with patent prosecution procedure” and advised him to seek out the services of a registered patent attorney or agent to prosecute the application. While the USPTO cannot aid in selecting a particular attorney/agent, it does provide a list on its website: www.uspto.gov.
After receiving this rejection, Apollo Instruments wisely retained a patent attorney, who was able to cure the format issues raised by the USPTO, but he was unable to convince the examiner to withdraw the substantive rejections. Apollo appeared to be interested in appealing the examiner’s decision to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, but instead decided to file a continuation-in-part application in 2008, which resulted in the ’433 patent.
According to the USPTO database, Apollo Instruments owns seven U.S. patents, including the ’433 patent.