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MEI Online: Froth Flotation: Latest News: August 22nd 2014


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:: US Challenge To Professor Graeme Jameson's Mining Invention Rejected


A United States manufacturing company has failed "on all grounds" in its legal challenge to have the Australian patent application for the University of Newcastle Professor Graeme Jameson's latest invention ruled invalid.

The opposition was launched earlier this year by Eriez Manufacturing and a hearing was held in May at IP Australia, Canberra.

Hearing officer Rhys Munzel handed down his decision last week in favour of Professor Jameson and the University of Newcastle's technology arm, Newcastle Innovation, that owns the patent. "The opposition fails on all grounds," Mr Munzel wrote. "Subject to an appeal against this decision the application is to proceed to grant."

The technology at the centre of the dispute is promoted as the next big thing in mining with the potential to save billions in energy consumption each year. Eriez owns the patent for a rival device, known as the HydroFloat Separator, that it sells around the world. The company challenged internationally renowned Professor Jameson's patent application on the grounds that it lacked novelty.

Both devices are touted as being able to revolutionise the way valuable coarse mineral particles are separated from host rock. The larger the particles that can be floated by the devices, the less need there is for grinding, which results in significantly reduced energy consumption.

Newcastle Innovation's legal counsel, Rebekah Gay of Herbert Smith Freehills, successfully argued that there was a "fundamental" difference between Professor Jameson's patent application and the Eriez patent. Ms Gay said the Eriez patent described a "gravity separator", whereas Professor Jameson's patent was for a "froth flotation device". She said the key differences in the Jameson application were a froth layer, freeboard and the way the particles were fed into the fluidised bed.

Mr Munzel found that Eriez had "not established that any claim [of the Jameson patent application] lacks novelty", or that any claim "lacks an inventive step". He said Eriez's own experts acknowledged that the HydroFloat Separator did not include the use of a "traditional" froth layer, while the Jameson patent comprised a froth layer.

The hearing officer ordered Eriez to pay the legal costs for Newcastle Innovation.




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