Jim Bradley made a $20 investment in the science of cold fusion and reaped nearly a 10,000 percent return.
The former Democratic Salt Lake County Commission candidate, who headed the state Department of Energy in the Scott Matheson administration, registered the business name of "Cold Fusion" on April 5 for $20 at the state Department of Commerce. That was 14 days after electrochemists B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann's March 23rd announcement of the discovery of solid-state fusion."It did surprise me that the name was still available," said Bradley, who is a private energy consultant. Nearly a month later, on May 8, Bradley did the same thing, reserving the name "Solid State Fusion."
Bradley said when the University of Utah's legal counsel called him, he agreed to sell non-exclusive rights to the "Cold Fusion" business name for $2,000.
Gregory P. Williams, one of the patent lawyers retained by the U. for $34,000 per month through November, filed for the name "National Cold Fusion Institute" on May 11, according to the application at the Department of Commerce.
"The university has acquired the rights to use the name National Cold Fusion Institute," said Richard Giauque, Williams' law firm partner. "To the extent that conflicted with any filing by Mr. Bradley or others, we have resolved that conflict with them."
Asked why attorneys for the university had not moved more quickly to reserve experiment titles as business names, Giauque said, "All I can say is special counsel had not been retained by that time."
Bradley said he just charged the U. for his time. "I could have made a lot of money. If I were speculating, I would have said "no," number one, and held out for 20,000 to 30,000 bucks and given them exclusive rights. If I were looking for it to make the money, I would have gotten a lot more."
Bradley said he's a fusion booster, although he thinks it may be years before private industry will profit from the discovery. The most immediate results will be in attracting research dollars to the university.
"It's never too early to be looking at getting in on the ground floor. I know a good source of energy when I see it," said Bradley, who wants the state to avoid another Philo T. Farnsworth episode. Farnsworth's discovery of television made little positive impact on Utah's revenues.
Others also are thinking ahead when it comes to the fusion name. While several entrepreneurs have registered corporation names with fusion in the title with the Utah Department of Commerce, the only company listed in the US WEST telephone directory is the Fusion Information Center.
Hal Fox, president of the for-profit company, said plans now call for publishing a fusion newsletter as well as selling fusion educational software and fusion components. He said his company's only connection with the U. is their Research Park location.
He admits to having financial motivations. "We expect to make some money on it. We don't expect to go broke doing it. Fox has also registered a not-for-profit corporation, Fusion Research Center, which hasn't been activated yet.
Other registered business names include Fusion Consultants Inc., registered by Tim Dalton Dunn, Salt Lake City; The Fusion Project, registered by Glen T. Hale, Salt Lake City, and Dunn; and Fusion Power, registered by Carl R. Clark, Midvale.