United States Patent Office
January 31, 1871
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:
By the 9th section of the act of Congress approved July 8, 1870, entitled "An act to revise, consolidate, and amend the statutes relating to patents and copyrights," the Commissioner of Patents is required to lay before Congress, annually, in the month of January, a report "giving a detailed statement of all moneys received for patents, for copies of records or drawings, or from any other source whatever; a detailed statement of all expenditures for contingent and miscellaneous expenses; a list of all patents which were granted during the preceding year, designating under proper heads the subjects of such patents; an alphabetical list of the patentees, with their places of residence; a list of all patents which have been extended during the year; and such other information of the condition of the Patent Office as may be useful to Congress or the public."
In compliance with this requirement of the statute, I have the honor to submit the following report:
The receipts and expenditures of the office for the year ending December 31, 1870, and the condition of the balance in the Treasury on account of the patent fund, as well as the character and extent of the business done by the office during the year, are shown in the following statements:
No. 1 -- Statement of moneys received Amount received on applications for patents, reissues, extensions, caveats, disclaimers, appeals and trademarks $603,775.00 Amount received for copies of specifications, drawings, and other papers 46,559.70 Amount received for recording assignments 19,122.06 ___________ Total 669,456.76 =========== No. 2 -- Statement of moneys expended Amount paid for salaries $404,143.53 Amount paid for photographing 22,457.18 Amount paid for contingent and miscellaneous expenses: Advertising $2,923.60 Stationery 9,953.57 Photographing 22,406.56 Lithographing, printing drawings, tracings, patent heads, etc. 6,811.81 Painting, glazing, and varnishing 6,934.30 File-boxes 1,698.45 Furniture, carpeting, etc. 10,987.61 Repairing furniture, carpenters' work, etc. 5,005.57 Fitting up new room over south portico 4,995.04 Fitting up cases in model room 11,905.20 Fitting up cases in rooms 4,350.96 Iron stairs leading to portico room 1,535.00 Iron railing, etc., in model room 740.88 Reducing drawings for lithographing 1,710.50 Making drawings 5,192.04 Plumbing and gas fitting 900.37 English patents 1,910.52 Paper hanging 1,972.17 Work on report 3,266.85 Preparing index of assignments 5,514.00 Refunding money paid by mistake 920.00 Miscellaneous items, books for library, subscriptions to journals, freight, ice, temporary laborers and copyists, hardware, keeping horse, brooms, brushes, buckets, mops, soap, spitoons, stoves and putting up the same, clocks and keeping them in repair, washing towels, fees of judges in appeal cases, withdrawals, etc. 18,911.48 ___________ $130,546,48 ___________ Total 557,147.19 =========== No. 3 -- Statement of the balance in the Treasury of the United States on account of the patent fund Amount to the credit of the patent fund, January 1, 1870 $531,045.64 Amount of receipts during the year 1870 669,456.76 ____________ Total 1,200,502.40 From which deduct expenditures for the year 1870 557,147.19 ____________ Balance on the 1st of January, 1871 643,355.21 =========== No. 4 -- Statement of the business of the office for the year 1870 Number of applications for patents during the year 1870 19,171 Number of patents issued, including reissues and designs 13,321 Number of applications for extensions of patents 200 Number of patents extended 111 Number of caveats filed during the year 3,273 Number of patents expired during the year 2,543 Number of patents allowed, but not issued for want of final fee 1,016 Number of applications for registering of trade-marks 188 Number of trade-marks registered 121 Of the patents granted there were to -- Citizens of the United States 12,677 Subjects of Great Britain 349 Subjects of France 89 Subjects of other foreign governments 206 ______ 13,321 ====== The patents issued to citizens of the United States were distributed among the citizens of the several States, Territories, etc., as follows Alabama 36 Arkansas 11 California 216 Colorado Territory 18 Connecticut 739 Delaware 39 District of Columbia 174 Florida 5 Georgia 81 Illinois 835 Indiana 452 Iowa 208 Kansas 46 Kentucky 143 Louisiana 111 Maine 139 Maryland 206 Massachusetts 1,448 Michigan 401 Minnesota 70 Mississippi 50 Missouri 210 Montana 1 Nebraska 16 Nevada 9 New Hampshire 111 New Jersey 474 New Mexico Territory 2 New York 2,962 North Carolina 54 Ohio 982 Oregon 22 Pennsylvania 1,481 Rhode Island 197 South Carolina 35 Tennessee 109 Texas 48 Utah Territory 1 Vermont 123 Virginia 110 Washington Territory 1 West Virginia 47 Wyoming Territory 1 Wisconsin 228 Citizens of the United States residing in foreign countries 17 Persons in United States Army 7 Persons in United States Navy 1 _______ Total 12,677 ====== No. 5 -- Comparative statement of the business of the Office from 1837 to 1870, inclusive Years Applica- Caveats Patents Cash Cash tions Filed Issued Received Expended 1837 435 $29,289.08 $33,506.98 1838 520 42,123.54 37,402.10 1839 425 37,260.00 34,543.51 1840 765 228 473 38,056.51 39,020.67 1841 847 312 495 40,413.01 52,666.87 1842 761 391 517 36,505.68 31,241.48 1843 819 315 531 35,315.81 30,766.96 1844 1,045 380 502 42,509.26 36,244.73 1845 1,246 452 502 51,076.14 39,395.65 1846 1,272 448 619 50,264.16 46,158.71 1847 1,531 553 572 63,111.19 41,878.35 1848 1,628 607 660 67,576.69 58,905.84 1849 1,955 595 1,070 80,752.78 77,716.44 1850 2,193 602 995 86,927.05 80,100.95 1851 2,258 760 869 95,738.61 86,916.93 1852 2,639 996 1,020 112,656.34 95,916.91 1853 2,673 901 958 121,527.45 132,869.83 1854 3,324 868 1,902 163,789.84 167,146.32 1855 4,435 906 2,024 216,459.35 179,540.33 1856 4,960 1,024 2,502 192,588.02 199,931.02 1857 4,771 1,010 2,910 196,132.01 211,582.09 1858 5,364 943 3,710 203,716.16 193,193.74 1859 6,225 1,097 4,538 245,942.15 210,278.41 1860 7,653 1,084 4,819 256,352.59 252.820.80 1861 4,643 700 3,340 137,354.44 221,491.91 1862 5,038 824 3,521 215,754.99 182,810.39 1863 6,014 787 4,170 195,593.29 189,414.14 1864 6,972 1,063 5,020 240,919.98 229,868.00 1865 10,664 1,937 6,616 348,791.84 274,199.34 1866 15,269 2,723 9,450 495,665.38 361,724.28 1867 21,276 3,597 13,015 646,581.92 639,263.32 1868 20,420 3,705 13,378 684,565.86 628,679.77 1869 19,271 3,624 13,986 693,145.81 486,430.78 1870 19,171 3,273 13,321 669,476.76 557,149.19
A subject-matter index of the patents issued during the year 1870, an alphabetical list of the patentees with their places of residence, and a list of the patents extended during the year, have been prepared and are submitted herewith as a part of this report.
Called upon to perform the duties of Commissioner of Patents temporarily only, until the gentleman already appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of the late Commissioner shall assume the office, it would manifestly be improper that I should embrace the present opportunity to recommend measures the advisability of which can in any respect be called in question. I shall refrain, therefore, from any general discussion of the affairs of the Patent Office, and confine myself to two or three matters which demand early attention and bout which it would seem that there can be but little difference of opinion.
By the joint resolution providing for publishing the specifications and drawings of the Patent Office, approved January 11, 1871, it is provided that the publication of the abstracts of specifications and of the engravings heretofore accompanying the annual report of the Commissioner of Patents shall be discontinued after the middle of the year eighteen hundred and sixty-nine, the mechanical illustrations for the first six months of that year having been already prepared; and that in lieu thereof the Commissioner is authorized to have printed for gratuitous distribution one hundred and fifty copies of the complete specifications and drawings of each patent thereafter issued, which copies, duly certified under the hand of the Commissioner and the seal of the Patent Office, are to be placed for free public inspection in the various State and territorial capitals and in the clerk's offices of the district courts of the various judicial districts throughout the United States; and this officer is further authorized and directed to have printed such additional numbers of copies of specifications and drawings, certified as before provided, as may be warranted by the actual demand for the same, to be sold at a price not exceeding the contract price for such drawings. It is also provided that the copies of drawings shall be made upon contract after due advertisement by the Superintendent of Public Printing, under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing.
This discontinuance of the publication of the mechanical report is in conformity with the recommendation of the late Commissioner of Patents. I have always doubted somewhat the wisdom of such a step, knowing, as I do, the avidity with which inventors in all parts of the country seek for copies of the report; and believing, also, that the matter contained therein, though necessarily imperfect, is, nevertheless, full of suggestions, and particularly calculated to furnish food for the inventive mind.
The delay heretofore connected with the publication of that report could have been entirely obviated by promptness in making the necessary appropriations for the work, as by proper management the Office could easily have had all the matter ready for press within one month after the end of the year. If it was found that the report under the system of distribution heretofore adopted failed to reach the quarters where it would confer the most benefit, this evil could easily have been remedied by providing, among other things, that each patentee of a given year should receive as a gratuity one copy of the report for that year, and that the rest of the edition be sold at a price not exceeding the prime cost thereof. And as the printed copies to be hereafter placed at central points, as provided by the joint resolution, it is feared that they will be of comparatively little service to the great mass of inventors who are scattered widely through the sparsely settled portions of the country, and who practically will have but little opportunity of consulting them. As evidence in the courts, as aids to patent solicitors and to professional experts, upon whom inventors largely rely, and as sources of information to all persons living near the places of deposit, they will of course prove valuable, as furnishing more exact and reliable knowledge than can be gained from any other source. For this reason they would form a most valuable adjunct to the present report; and in view of the great benefits which the patent system has already conferred upon the nation -- single inventions, like the sewing machine, the harvester, the telegraph, or vulcanized rubber, having more enriched the country than the whole system has cost from its inauguration to the present time -- I believe that the expense of retaining the mechanical report in addition to the new publication would be fully justified. The annual income of the Patent Office, in excess of its expenditures, would more than pay the cost of the proposed additional work; and the balance of six hundred and forty thousand dollars in the Treasury to the credit of the patent fund warrants the most liberal policy in support of the workings of this bureau. The Government ought not to seek to raise revenue by levying taxes upon the inventive genius of the people; but all the money received from inventors should be expended in such a way to secure the largest and most beneficent development of the patent system.
But, whatever question may be made as to the policy of retaining or dispensing with the mechanical report, if we inquire as to the mode in which the drawings should be reproduced in carrying out the provisions of the recent enactment, I am convinced from a careful consideration of the subject that the work should be done by the Patent Office itself and not by contract. The objections to dealing with contractors are manifold. Not the least among them is the fact that the office is required to part temporarily with the custody of its original records, a thing which, for obvious reasons, should never take place, and which at times becomes the source of great inconvenience in the transaction of business. With a proper outfit the work could undoubtedly be done in the office as artistically and more economically than outside parties. Under this arrangement, too, the copies prepared for gratuitous distribution could be made to conform in size to those which are now being made for office use, and thus a saving of many thousands of dollars be effected annually. If under the contract system a smaller size be adopted, it would necessitate a recomposition of the entire letter-press at an annual expense of not less than sixty thousand dollars, against which there would appear as elements of savings, from the reduced cost of paper and binding, not more than thirty thousand dollars. I deem it of importance, as a matter of economy as well as convenience, that the same size be adopted for the public as for the Office.
I would respectfully suggest, therefore, that in any appropriation which may be made for carrying out the provisions of the joint resolution, it shall be provided that if, in the judgment of the Secretary of the Interior, the work can be performed more advantageously under the direction of the Commissioner of Patents than in the manner proposed by the resolution, it shall be done. This, without deciding the question of relative economy in advance, would give the head of the Department opportunity to investigate the whole subject thoroughly before the course to be adopted should finally be decided upon.
As regards the sale of single copies of the specification and its accompanying drawings, the price established by the joint resolution is unnecessarily and unreasonably low. "The contract price of the drawing" could hardly be expected to exceed three cents; yet the cost of the drawing and the corresponding specification, together with the handling and certifying of the same, could not be much less than ten cents. As certified copies are mainly needed for proceedings in courts and in settling questions of title, I would suggest that the price of the same be left as now fixed by the patent law, and that the price of uncertified printed copies be left to the determination of the Commissioner, ten cents being fixed as the minimum and fifty cents as the maximum. This would be such a reduction from the prices now charged as would doubtless create a largely increased demand, and give no occasion for complaint; at the same time it might reasonably be expected to add considerably to the revenues of the Office from this source.
By section 20 of the patent act approved July 8, 1870, the Commissioner of Patents is authorized to print, or cause to be printed, copies of the claims of current issues of patents, and copies of such laws, decisions, rules, regulations, and circulars as may be necessary for the information of the public. Under this provision of the law the Office has, for some time past, been issuing a weekly list of patents, which contains the number, title and claim of each patent issued, together with the name and residence of the patentee. This publication costs the Government about five thousand dollars per annum. It is sold to subscribers at five dollars a year; and the amount realized from this source during the last year is thirty-three hundred and sixty-eight dollars. The amount paid for advertising applications to the extension of patents, during the same time, is twenty-nine hundred and twenty-three dollars.
I would respectfully recommend that the Commissioner of Patents be authorized to enlarge the scope of the periodical publication named, so as to make it an official gazette, in which all the advertisements pertaining to the business of the Office shall be inserted, in lieu of all other advertising as now required by law. At present, the law requires that the Commissioner shall publish a notice of every extension application in one newspaper in the city of Washington, and in such other papers published in the section most interested adversely to the extension of the patent, as he may deem proper. Under this law, the patronage of the Office is distributed among three of the Washington papers, and a second copy of the advertisement is usually sent to some paper in the vicinity of the residence of the patentee. This is at best an imperfect system of accomplishing the work intended, as there is no one paper in the entire country which contains all the advertisements of this Office, and which therefore a person concerned, professionally or otherwise, in extension applications, can take, and feel assurance that the very case for which he is watching may not escape his eye. By the proposed change in this regard all uncertainty of this kind would disappear; the public, both inventors and attorneys, would be much better served, since in connection with the list of claims they would receive the official advertisements without further expense; and a considerable saving to the Government would be effected, both by the cessation of further payments for advertising and by the largely increased circulation which by this means would be secured for the publication already authorized by law.
By section 63 of the patent act it is provided that an application for the extension of a patent shall be filed "not more than six months nor less than ninety days before the expiration of the original term of the patent." Under this section applications are generally delayed until the last moment; and then it frequently happens, if the case is an important one, in which opposition is entered, and the taking of a large amount of testimony, to be obtained in remote and widely separated sections of the country, becomes necessary, that the application cannot be prepared for a hearing until so late a day as to cause the careful consideration of it prior to the expiration of the patent seriously to interfere with the Commissioner's duties in relation to other matters. It frequently happens, too, that on the day of hearing a fatal defect in the presentation of the case is developed, which, if there were further time at the disposal of the party, might be remedied. For these reasons every such case, in my judgment, should be brought to a hearing at least four weeks before the date of the expiration of the patent. To this end the application must be filed in the Office at an earlier day than is now required by law. I would suggest that nine months be fixed as the maximum limit, and six as the minimum.
The business of the Patent Office for the past year is perhaps sufficiently exhibited by the tables already given, and does not call for any extended remark. I cannot, however, close this brief report without referring to the eminent service rendered by the late Commissioner, the Hon. Samuel S. Fisher, whose energy and ability in the discharge of his official duties have done so much to correct and systematize the practice of the Office. The periodical publication of the Commissioner's decisions, whereby the examiners, as well as the attorneys, have received early information of the principles which controlled the head of the Office in deciding the cases brought to his personal attention, has proved a marked and most valuable feature of the late administration. Great care was also exercised in the filling of vacancies, the appointments being made with special reference to the merits of the persons receiving them, and in many instances after they had passed the ordeal of a severe competitive examination.
The manifest improvement thus effected in the personnel of the Office reflects credit upon the officer under whose administration it was brought about. The impress which he has left behind him will be lasting, and his official connection with the patent system will long be remembered with satisfaction and pleasure.