BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE FROM ITS FOUNDATION -- 1790 TO 1886 -- WITH AN OUTLINE OF LAWS, GROWTH, PUBLICATIONS, OFFICE ROUTINE, etc.
R. Beresford, Printer
THE U.S. PATENT OFFICE SINCE 1790
In no country has the inventive genius of its people made such rapid progress, or found such rapid expansion, as in the United States.
The growth, increase, and expansion of the inventive spirit among our citizens are due primarily to generous protection which the Government has extended, from its earliest infancy to the discoveries of inventors through the medium of its patent system, and volumes might be written of the value resulting from the fostering care which the Government has exercised in this direction.
The United States Patent office possesses a significance which does not attach to any other Bureau of the Government. There is no branch of industry, trade, or manufacture over which it does not extend its encouraging and protecting arm. The farmer and the mechanic, the dealer in every useful implement, the miller, the miner, the weaver and the iron worker, all realize the value and importance of this Bureau. Even before the adoption of the Federal Constitution some of the State governments undertook to grant exclusive privileges to inventors, but these were of little practical value.
The American patent system was founded by the act of April 10, 1790, the bill being inspired and urged by Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, who had seen during his residence abroad the encouragement and protection extended by other countries to inventive skill and industry, and the exclusive privileges that were granted to the producing of things new and useful in art, science, literature and mechanics.
The act of 1790 embodied, or was supposed to possess, the best features of the systems of Europe, although English theories were more specifically considered. This bill constituted a tribunal of three, consisting of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General, who were authorized and empowered "to grant patents for any such useful art, manufacture, engine, machine or device as they should deem sufficiently useful and important." The last clause in the act was held to give the board authority to refuse patents for want of novelty of invention or insufficiency of utility or importance, and this power was vigorously exercised. The first Board of Commissioners consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State; Henry Knox, of Massachusetts, Secretary of War, and Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, Attorney General, and so carefully and critically did they perform their duty, rigidly scrutinizing each point of the specification and claims, that most of the applications failed to receive their distinguished approval, and during the first year only three patents were granted.
This original patent law limited the life of a patent to fourteen (14) years, and there was no provision for an extension. It required that "a written specification be filed with the Secretary of State, containing a description of the article desired to be patented, accompanied with draft or model and explanations and models." It also required that the specification should be so particular and the models so exact as not only to distinguish the inventions or discovery from other things before known and used, but also to enable a workman or other person skilled in the art or manufacture whereof it is a branch, or whereunto it may be nearest connected, to make, construct or use the same, to the end that the public may have the full benefit thereof after the expiration of the patent term." The Secretary of State was also directed to furnish copies of any specification and to permit any model to be copied on application. Provision was made for the repeal of any patent obtained surreptitiously or by false suggestion, but no remedy was given for interfering applications. The law was very defective, as are nearly all initial measures, but it was the starting point of our patent system, and it has, therefore, been necessary to speak of its provisions somewhat at length.
The tribunal which controlled the examination and granting of patents under this act of 1790 was absolute in its authority, and there was no appeal from its decisions. The severity of its scrutiny and the strictness with which it exercised its power caused great dissatisfaction, and inventors complained that the three officers composing the board were not in sympathy with those whom the law under which they acted was designed to benefit; that, on the contrary, they were by education and interest hostile to the industrial classes.
Consequently, in 1793 another act was passed which destroyed this power of revision and rejection which the first tribunal had so rigidly enforced.
The first act of 1790 made no distinction between citizens of the United States and aliens as to their rights under the patent law, but by the act of 1793 persons not citizens of the United States could not obtain patents. This was amended, however, by an act passed April 17, 1802, so as to give aliens who had resided in this country for two years the same rights as citizens, provided they submitted an affidavit declaring their intention to become citizens. The general construction of the act of 1793 was much the same as that of 1790, except that there was no power of rejection, and that to the Secretary of State alone was given the duty of granting patents. The certificate of the Attorney General as to the correctness of the forms, and the signature of the President were still required. There was a provision by which interfering applications should be determined by a Board of Arbitration, one of which should be chosen by the applicants and one by the Secretary of State. The decision of this tribunal was to be final, and if either party refused to go into arbitration the patent was granted to the opposing party.
For twelve years, from 1790 to 1802, the entire work of the Patent Office was performed by a single clerk in the State Department, and all the records did not fill over a dozen pigeon holes. In 1802 Dr. Thornton, a gentleman of scientific attainments, was appointed by Mr. Jefferson "Superintendent" of the Patent Office, and for twenty-six years he exercised autocratic control of its affairs.
Like the majority of scientific men, he had little practical business knowledge, and therefore compelled the payment of fees by inventors, or not, just as the fancy seized him. He claimed that he was invested with much discretionary power in this respect, asserting that "the patent law was made solely for the encouragement of authors and inventors, and not to collect revenue."
As a consequence, when the affairs of the Patent Office were investigated, after the death of Dr. Thornton, there was found to be quite a deficit between the amount that actually was, and that which should have been, to the credit of the Office in the Treasury. Though this state of affairs was discovered there does not appear to have been any suspicion of personal dishonesty on the part of the Superintendent, but the deficit was stated to have resulted from the liberality with which he dealt with patentees. There was an abundant lack of system during the Doctor's administration, for it was no unusual thing to find him a co-patentee while he was determining on questions which might arise under the law and the practice which he himself dictated, and there was no regular method of recording the patents granted.
Dr. Thornton took great interest in the office, and he dictated its action with a power that knew no master. The duties of his position not being onerous, he conducted an extensive correspondence on scientific subjects with the patent officials of the old world and scientists generally, which he left as a part of the archives of the Office "as a monument of his fidelity to and interest in the advancement of American mechanics."
A story is told of him that, during the war of 1812, when the British captured the city of Washington and destroyed the Capitol building, a loaded cannon was trained upon the Patent Office for the purpose of destroying it, and he is said to have put himself before the gun, and in a frenzy of excitement exclaimed: "Are you Englishmen or only Goths and Vandals? This is the Patent Office, a depository of the ingenuity of the American nation, in which the whole civilized world is interested. Would you destroy it? If so, fire away, and let the charge pass through my body." The effect is said to have been magical upon the soldiers, and to have saved the Patent Office from destruction.
After Dr. Thornton's death Mr. Jones was superintendent of the Patent Office for two years, from 1828 to 1820, when he was succeeded by Dr. J.D. Craig, who remained in office until 1836. He attempted to run the office to suit himself, regardless of law and customs, and after about three years of this management he was brought up with a round turn by an investigation ordered by the Secretary of State, upon charges preferred by a former employee. These alleged Craig exercised arbitrary powers in issuing three or more patents for the same invention; that he paid no attention to interfering applications or kept any record of them; that he destroyed the correspondence of the office for forty years prior to his administration, and was totally incompetent to discharge the duties of his office. The result of the investigation was the censure of the superintendent by the Secretary of State, who laid down some plain business rules for the future government of the office, which, it is said, were strictly followed.
The rapidity of the growth of the Patent Office and the interest that was taken by the country in its progress is illustrated by the fact that on April 28, 1810, Congress passed an act authorizing the President to erect or procure by purchase a building suitable for the accommodation of the "General Post Office and of the Keeper of the Patents," in such situation and finished in such manner as the interests of the United States and the safety and convenience of these respective officers, respectively, and the arrangement of the models in the Patent Office should, in his opinion, require. The sum of $20,000 was appropriated for the purposes expressed in the act, and a building purchased on the site now occupied by the Post Office Department. By the act of March 7, 1812, a further appropriation of $9,553.91 was made to repair it.
Prior to that time the Patent Office was in the old War Department building, but even at that early day its space was found to be too limited, and in 1812 it was removed to the building standing on the site occupied by the present Post Office Department building, where it remained until destroyed by fire in 1836.
During the years from 1790 to 1812 inventors confined themselves almost wholly to agricultural and commercial objects. Implements for tilling the soil and converting its products and machinery for navigation attracted most attention. Manufactures, except of a purely domestic character for domestic purposes, were hardly known. The arts were poorly understood and little cultivated. The necessities of the new world drove its enterprise into other channels, and its people looked to Europe for manufactured products not directly connected with the necessities of life or demanded by the development of its commerce or agriculture. The war of 1812, however, forced our people to attempt production in many branches of manufacture and industry heretofore almost wholly uncultivated, and the result was the most remarkable development of human ingenuity ever known in any age or country. It is a source of great regret that no well-preserved history of American inventions dating from this time is in existence, and that no classified list of models which were in the object at the time of the fire of 1836 can be obtained. The earliest date that can be reached is January 21, 1823, and that is only partially complete, but it gives the number in the most important classes.
Lists of models in the Patent Office January 21, 1823
Propelling boats ................................... 38 Carding machines ................................... 8 Making carriage wheels ............................. 4 Plows .............................................. 65 Thrashing machines ................................. 20 Winnowing machines ................................. 25 Bridges ............................................ 13 Saw mills .......................................... 26 Water mills ........................................ 17 Windmills .......................................... 7 Water wheels ....................................... 26 Pumps .............................................. 66 Presses ............................................ 56 Looms .............................................. 45 Stocking looms ..................................... 3 Spinning machines .................................. 28 Fire engines ....................................... 10 Steam mills ........................................ 14 Nail cutting machines .............................. 95 Machines for making barrels, etc.................... 1 Mud machines ....................................... 7 Flax dressing machines ............................. 6 File cutting machines .............................. 6 Machines for cutting dye-wood ...................... 6 Cloth shearing machines ............................ 16 Straw cutting machines ............................. 10 Boring machines .................................... 3 Locks .............................................. 12 Guns ............................................... 2 ____ 635 For various other purposes ...................... 1,184 _____ Total 1,819
The models were classified as follows:
I. AGRICULTURE -- Plows, harrows, cultivators, planting, seeding, mowing and thrashing machines, rakes, wheat fans, straw cutters, etc.
II. FACTORY MACHINERY -- For cotton, wool, flax, hemp, paper, rolling and slitting mills, nail cutters, etc.
III. NAVIGATION -- Ships, boats, marine railways, canals, locks, mud machines, dry-docks, etc.
IV. LAND WORKS -- Railways, roads, bridges, excavating and boring machines, pile-engines, etc.
V. COMMON TRADES -- Brick-making and planing machines, trip hammers, bellows, turning lathes, chains, washing machines, household furniture and utensils; also boots and shoes, saddles, harness, etc
VI. WHEEL CARRIAGES -- Coaches, chairs, wagons, carts, way-wisers, mail-bags, etc.
VII. HYDRAULICS -- Pumps, fire-engines, hose-valves, etc.
VIII. CALORIFICES AND STEAM APPARATUS -- Furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, boilers, steam engines and stills.
IX. MILLS -- Water and other wheels, grist-mills, saw-Mills, and the various parts of their machinery.
X. LEVER AND SCREW POWER -- Applied to printing, coining, and other presses
XI. ARMS -- Cannons, mortars, muskets, rifles, pistols, percussion and other locks, swords, etc.
XII. MATHEMATICAL INSTRUMENTS -- For surveying, mining and nautical purposes.
XIII. CHEMICAL COMPOSITIONS -- Patent medicines, cements, dyes, etc.
XIV. FINE ARTS -- Musical instruments, paints, varnishes, gildings, sculpture, architecture and gardening
In the forty-six years from 1790 to 1838, there were granted by the Patent Office 11,348 patents, and though included in this number were some of the most important inventions of the age, a large number, on account of lack of novelty or usefulness, were valueless. The following tabulated statement will show the number of patents granted each year from 1790 to July 4, 1836:
In 1790, 3; in 1791, 33; in 1792, 11; in 1793, 20; in 1794, 22; in 1795, 12; in 1796, 44; in 1797, 51; in 1798, 28; in 1799, 44; in 1800, 41; in 1801, 44; in 1802, 65; in 1803, 97; in 1804, 84; in 1805, 57; in 1806, 63; in 1807, 99; in 1808, 158; in 1809, 203; in 1810, 223; in 1811, 215; in 1812, 238; in 1813, 181; in 1814, 210; in 1815, 173; in 1816, 206; in 1817, 174; in 1818, 222; in 1819, 156; in 1820, 155; in 1821, 168; in 1822, 200; in 1823, 173; in 1824, 228; in 1825, 204; in 1826, 323; in 1827, 331; in 1828, 368; in 1829, 447; in 1830, 544; in 1831, 573; in 1832, 474; in 1833, 586; in 1834, 630; in 1835, 757; in 1836, 723.
The fees which were the results of this business had accumulated a surplus on January 1, 1837, in the Treasury to the credit of the patent fund over and above all expenses incurred of $156,907.73.
The law reorganizing the Patent Office and inaugurating practically the system under which its operations are now conducted was approved July 4, 1836. Many changes have, of course, since been made, as the increase of the business and force demanded, but this law laid the foundation for the business of the Office, the accountability of its officers, the careful scrutiny of the novelty and usefulness of alleged inventions, and the adjustment of fees.
Though the office was still combined with, and attached to, the Department of State, it was made a separate bureau, and its chief was given the designation of Commissioner of Patents, who was to be appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. A Chief Clerk was provided for, who was to have custody of the seal, records, and models of the office, and in the absence of the Commissioner was to perform the duties of that officer. Both Commissioner and Chief Clerk were required to give bonds for the faithful performance of their duties. The force which was then provided for the office consisted of one examining clerk at a salary of $1,500 a year, whose duties were the same as those now performed by a principal examiner; two clerks at $1,200 each, one at $1,000, a machinist at $1,250, and a messenger at $700. Patents were to be issued for a term not exceeding fourteen years, the fee being $30, and an extension for seven years might be made upon payment of an additional $30, provided the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of Patents, and the Solicitor of the Treasury, who were constituted a board to hear and decide upon evidence for or against the extension, should so decide.
Perhaps the most important provision of this act of reorganization was that which insisted upon a careful and discriminating examination of every application for a patent, so that the duplication which had formerly been so frequent should not take place in the future. As this was the groundwork of the intelligent issue of patents the section is given at length. It provided, "that the Commissioner shall make, or cause to be made, an examination of the new invention or discovery, and if on any such examination it shall not appear to the Commissioner that the same had been invented or discovered by any other person in this country prior to the alleged invention or discovery thereof by the applicant, or that it had been patented or described in any printed publication in this or any foreign country, or had been in public use or on sale with the applicant's consent or allowance prior to the application, if the Commissioner shall deem it to be sufficiently useful and important it shall be his duty to issue a patent therefor. But whenever, on such examination, it shall appear to the Commissioner that the applicant was not the original and first inventor or discoverer thereof, or that any part of that which is claimed as new had been invented or discovered or patented or described in any printed publication in this or any foreign country, as aforesaid, or that the description is defective and insufficient, he shall notify the applicant thereof, giving him briefly such information and references as may be useful in judging of the propriety of renewing his application or altering his specification to embrace only that part of the invention or discovery which is new. In every such case, if the applicant shall elect to withdraw his application, relinquishing his claim to the model, he shall be entitled to receive back twenty dollars, part of the duty required by this act, on filing a notice in writing of such election in the Patent Office, a copy of which, certified by the Commissioner, shall be a sufficient warrant to the Treasurer for paying back to the said applicant the said sum of twenty dollars. But if the applicant in such case shall persist in his claim for a patent, with or without any alteration of his specification, he shall be required to make oath or affirmation anew in manner as aforesaid; and if the specification and claim shall not have been so modified as in the opinion of the Commissioner shall entitle the applicant to a patent, he may, on appeal, and upon request in writing, have the decision of a Board of Examiners, to be composed of three disinterested persons, who shall be appointed for the purpose by the Secretary of State, one of whom, at least, to be selected, if practicable and convenient, for his knowledge and skill in the particular art, manufacture, or branch of science to which the alleged invention appertains, who shall be under oath or affirmation for the faithful performance of the duty imposed upon them by said appointment."
This board was to be furnished with a written opinion of the Commissioner stating the particular grounds of his objection and the part or parts of the invention which he did not deem entitled to be patented. Then the board were to give notice to the applicant as well as to the Commissioner of the time and place of their meeting, so that both could have opportunity of presenting such facts and evidence as they might deem necessary. The Commissioner was required to furnish the board of examiners such information as he might possess, and they had power to reverse, either in whole or in part, the Commissioner's decision and certify their opinion to that officer.
This method of procedure in case of appeal from the primary examiner remained in force for a quarter of a century, when, on March 2d, 1861, Congress created a tribunal consisting of three persons to be known as Examiners-in-Chief. The office practice had previously been to detail three examiners to perform the work devolving upon the new board, though persons not connected with the office had been called upon to act as judges in an appeal case.
When the patent business began to increase rapidly this system was found to be inadequate to the demands of the office, in consequence of the great amount of litigation which arose, and the present board of appeals was constituted, whose duty it is to hear and determine all questions on appeal from the decisions of the primary examiners.
Most of the methods at present in force for the disposition of interfering applications were provided for in the act of 1836, which also made provisions for an arrangement and classification of the models so they should be easy of access for study and inspection. It also laid the foundation of the present scientific library of the office by appropriating $1,500 for the purchase of books.
This statute retained the discrimination in favor of American patentees, modified, however, so as to only require aliens a residence in this country of one year, and providing that a British subject should pay $500 upon making an application, while for all other foreign applicants the fee was $300. This state of things lasted until the passage of the act of 1861, which abolished all discrimination against aliens, unless the country to which they owed allegiance discriminated against citizens of the United States. The caveat system was created by this same law. Under this arrangement an inventor could, by paying $20, file in the Patent Office a caveat, setting forth the design and purpose of his invention, its chief and specific characteristics, and asking the protection of his right until he could mature his invention. If within the year any interfering application should be filed, notice was given to the person filing the caveat of the interference, and that he must mature his patent within three months or lose the benefit of the security which his caveat afforded it. The fee under this system was $20, to be paid at the filing of the caveat, which was applied to the regular fee when the patent was taken out. By the act of March 2d, 1861, this amount was reduced to $10, and made an absolute fee.
Hardly had the reorganization of the Patent Office been effected and the force of eight persons, which was considered extravagant by some, managed to get into thorough working order, when the Post Office building, in which it was located, was destroyed by fire. The model room which the new Commissioner, Henry L. Ellsworth, considered "one of the grandest evidences of inventive genius on the Globe" was a wreck, and the numerous specimens of ingenious construction illustrating the most valuable principles of mechanics were a mass of debris.
After this fire Senator Ruggles, who had been one of the most active promoters of the act of reorganization which had passed but a few months before, was made chairman of a special committee to examine into the extent of the loss. In referring to the good results of the system of examination which he had provided for in his former act, he said, "that the provision interdicting the quantity of patents for what was not new and original is the most valuable feature of the act of July last." The records bear out his statement, for in the first part of the year 1835, under the old system 625 patents were granted, while in the last of the same year, under the new law, there were only 97, more than two- thirds of all the applications made being rejected for either want of novelty or usefulness. In speaking of the duties of an Examiner, and what his qualifications should be according to the views of the Committee, Senator Ruggles said:
It is his business to make himself fully acquainted with the principles of the invention for which a patent is sought, and to make a thorough investigation of all that has been before known or invented either in Europe or America, on the particular subject presented for his examination. He must ascertain how far the invention interferes in any of its parts with other previous inventions or things previously in use. He must point out and describe the extent of such collision and interference, that the applicant may have the benefit of the information in so shaping or restricting his claim of originality as not to trespass upon the rights of others. The applicant should also be referred to the sources of this information, that he may be able to satisfy himself on the particular points of interference. This frequently leads to a lengthy correspondence, before the applicant can be persuaded that his invention or some rejected part of it, is not new. He often employs skilful and persevering counsel to urge and enforce by argument new views of the principles of his invention, who sometimes brings to his aid much mechanical astuteness. The examiner must also see that the specification accords with the drawing, and that the model is in conformity with both.
An efficient and just discharge of these duties, it is obvious, requires extensive scientific attainments, and a general knowledge of the arts, manufactures, and the mechanism used in every branch of business in which improvements are sought to be patented, and the principles embraced in the ten thousand inventions patented in the United States, and of the thirty thousand patented in Europe. He must moreover possess a familiar knowledge of the statute and common law on the subject, and the judicial decisions both in England and our own country, in patent cases. This service is important, as it is often difficult and laborious. Here is the first check upon attempts to palm off old inventions for new, or to interfere with the rights of others previously acquired. This is also the source whence the honest and meritorious inventor may look for aid and direction in framing his specifications as that he may be able to sustain his patent when issued, and find security and protection against expensive and fruitless litigation.
Suitable qualifications for these duties are rare, and cannot be obtained without such compensation as they readily command in other employment. It will, undoubtedly, be wise in the Government to affix such salary to this office as will secure the best talent and qualifications. Although an appeal is allowed by law, yet, if a high character is given to it, this will be the best, as it is the most appropriate tribunal for judging of these subjects, and its decisions commanding respect and confidence, there will be but little inclination to take exceptions to its judgment. Thus will be cut off a fruitful source of law suits, and our court calendars will cease to be crowded with cases arising out of the interfering rights of patentees. Meritorious inventors will secure in their rights, and the public relieved from imposition and embarrassment. These are among the first of the objects and merits of the act of last session.
A Senatorial Committee, appointed to examine and report the extent of the loss sustained, and to consider what measures should be adopted to establish such evidences of property in patented inventions as the destruction of the models and drawings may have rendered it necessary for its security, thus spoke of the model room and its contents.
It was an object of just pride to every American able to appreciate its value as an item in the estimate of national character, or the advantages and benefits derivable from high improvements in the useful arts -- a pride which must now stand rebuked by the improvidence which exposed so many memorials and evidences of the superiority of American genius to the destruction which has overtaken them.
The number of models was about seven thousand. Many of them displayed great talent, ingenuity, and mechanical science. The American inventions pertaining to the spinning of cotton and wool and the manufacture of fabrics, in many respects exceed those of any other nation, and reduced so much the expense of manufacture, that the British manufacturers were reluctantly obliged, at the expense of a little national pride, to lay aside their own machinery and adopt our improvements, to prevent our underselling them even in their home market. In this department were the inventions of Browne, Thorpe, Danforth, Couilliard, Calvert, and some others. The beautiful operative model of Wilkinson's machine for manufacturing weavers' reeds by one operation, was considered one of the most ingenious mechanical combinations ever invented. Of this character was Whittemore's celebrated machine for making wool cards. There were several models of valuable improvements in shearing and napping cloth, patented to Swift, Stowell, Dewey, Parsons, Daniels, and others.
In another department were several models of machines for manufacturing cut and wrought nails. The machinery for this purpose, which has reduced so much the price of that important article, was of purely American origin, and was invented by Briggs, Perkins, Reed, Odiorne, and several others.
The models of improvements in grist mills, saw mills, water wheels, etc. were numerous.
AMERICAN INVENTIONS IN THE USE OF STEAM
The application of steam power to the driving of all kinds of machinery for propelling boats, locomotives, mills, and factories, has brought out a great number of American inventions and improvements, displaying a degree of talent, ingenuity, and science highly creditable to our country. Some of the models in this department very valuable. America claims the honor (contested, indeed, by England) of the first successful attempt to apply the power of steam to the propelling of vessels. The name of Fulton is associated with one of the noblest efforts of genius and science. It has often been regretted that no model was preserved of his steamboat, which was the first to demonstrate the practicability of making steam subservient to the purpose of useful navigation. There was, however, deposited in the Patent Office a volume of drawings elegantly executed by his own hand, delineating the various parts of the machinery he employed, and embracing three beautiful representations of his steamer making its first triumphant struggle against the opposing current of the Hudson. The steamer was represented passing through the Highlands, and at two or three other interesting points on the river, with a beautiful sketching of the surrounding scenery smiling as if it were at the victory which science and art had at last achieved over the power of the winds and the waters, and at the opening era of steam navigation, the benefits of which have since been so widely diffused. It contained also an account of his experiments on the resistance of fluids, and various estimates of the power required to propel vessels of various tonnage and form through the water at greater or less speed. This volume, which should have been preserved among our choicest archives, shared the fate of every thing else in the office. What sum would be too great to be expended in replacing it?
AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY AND IMPLEMENTS
The Department of Agriculture contained a great number of models of highly useful improvements in the implements of husbandry. The number of inventions which had for their object the advancement of the agricultural interests, was about fifteen hundred; those which pertained to navigation were a little short of a thousand. The inventions and improvements in factory machinery, and in the various manufactures, where upwards of two thousand. In the common mechanical trades, there were as many more. It were vain to attempt to enumerate or classify them within the reasonable space of a report of committee. There was no art or pursuit to which ingenuity and invention had not lent their aid.
That this great national repository should have received so little consideration heretofore as to be left so long exposed to conflagration, which has at last swept every vestige of it from existence, cannot be too deeply deplored. But the reproach does not rest at the door of the present Congress. The act passed at the first session, reorganizing the office, containing many important provisions for its management, and the appropriation for erecting a fireproof building, for the accommodation and preservation of the records, models, etc., which is now under construction, attest the interest inspired and the attention devoted to it, though, unfortunately, too late to rescue it from destruction.
This committee presented an act providing for the replacement of the lost and destroyed patents, specifications, and models, setting forth with minute distinctness the methods of which copies of patents, descriptions, specifications, and models, setting forth with minute distinctness the methods by which copies of patents, descriptions, specifications, and drawings should be authenticated. Means were provided for the restoration of all the patents and models, and the Commissioner in his report for the year 1837 presented the gratifying statement that over 2,000 patents had been restored, and that an alphabetical and classified digest of all the patents issued by the United States up to the time of the fire was nearly completed. This index is the only record of the early transactions of the Office in existence. It was not till 1849, a period of over twelve years, that the reproduction of destroyed models, drawings, etc., was discontinued, and during this time the Office was constantly in correspondence with thousands of inventors in different parts of the country.
A few of the most valuable models and drawings could not be duplicated at any cost, but nearly all that were of importance were restored.
In the meantime work which had been commenced on the main or central portion of the present building was pushed forward, and it was completed and occupied by the Patent Office in the Spring of 1840. The Commissioner of Patents in his annual report for that year speaks of the new building as follows:
The Patent Office building is sufficient for the wants of the Patent Office for many years, but will not allow accommodation for other objects than those contemplated in its erection.
But he suggests that --
The present edifice admits of such enlargement as many contribute to its ornament, and furnish all necessary accommodations for the National Institute, and also convenient halls for lectures, should they be needed in the future disposition of the Smithsonian legacy.
The National Gallery is ready for the exhibition of models and specimens, and cases are being prepared to preserve the same against injury or loss by exposure. I am happy to say that the mechanics and manufacturers are improving the opportunity to present the choicest contributions, and from the encouragement given no doubt is entertained that the hall, considered by many so spacious, will in a short time be entirely filled, presenting a display of national skill and ingenuity not surpassed by any similar exhibition in the world.
The rapid growth of the Office is illustrated, however, from the fact that in 1844, only four years after its entrance into its new and permanent home, the Commissioner reports that "the models of patented inventions are crowding so as to prevent classification," and he says that "there seems to be no alternative but to extend the building." His views were repeated and emphasized by each succeeding Commissioner until, in 1849, an appropriation was made for the commencement of the eastern wing.
The act which made this appropriation was important in another respect, for it created the Interior Department and transferred the Patent Office from the State Department to the new department as its most important bureau. This eastern wing was completed in 1852, but it was ascertained by that time that even the additional space it provided would be insufficient for the accommodation of the growing Department, and the same year the west wing was commenced, which was finished in 1856. By that time so rapid had been the growth of the Interior Department that the last extension of which the building was capable, viz.: the north wing, was found to be absolutely necessary, and work was begun upon that the same year that the west wing was occupied. The war interfered materially with the progress of this work, and it was not until 1867 that the building was fully completed.
Though the other Bureaus of the Interior Department had crowded in upon the Patent Office, the magnificent building was created from the money paid by the inventors of the country in fees for the granting of their patents, and they justly claim its ownership.
Comparatively little change had taken place in the method of administration of the officers of the Patent Office since the passage of the act of 1836. Some of the modifications as to extensions of patents, the addition of an Assistant Commissioner and an Examiner of Interferences, which, perhaps, is the most purely judicial office in the Bureau, and a few other alterations had been provided by various Acts of Congress, but the system of examination and granting of patents remained substantially the same. Of the value of the Patent Office upon the growth of the industries of the country and upon our national prosperity the following extract from a speech made by Mr. Platt, of Connecticut, in the United States Senate may be appropriately quoted:
Mr. President, to my mind the passage of the act of 1836, creating the Patent Office marks the most important epoch in the history of our development -- I think the most important event in the history of our Government from the Constitution till the war of the rebellion. The establishment of the Patent Office marked the commencement of the marvelous development of the resources of the country which is the wonder and admiration of the world, a development which challenges all history for a parallel; it is not too much to say that this unexampled progress has been not only dependent upon but has been coincident with the growth and development of the patent system of this country. Words fail in attempting to portray the advancement of this country for the last fifty years. We have had fifty years of progress, fifty years of inventions applied to the every day wants of life, fifty years of patent encouragement, fifty years of a development of wealth, resources, grandeur, culture, power, which is a little short of miraculous. Population, production, business, wealth, comfort, culture, power, grandeur, these have all kept step with the expansion of the inventive genius of this country; and this progress has been made possible only by the inventions of its citizens.
All history confirms us in the conclusions that it is the development by the mechanic arts of the industries of a country which brings it greatness and power and glory. No purely agricultural, pastoral people ever achieved any high standing among the nations of the earth. It is only when the brain evolves and the cunning hand fashions labor-saving machines that a nation begins to throb with new energy and life and expands with a new growth. It is only when thought wrings from nature her untold secret resources that solid wealth and strength are accumulated by a people. Especially is this true in a Republic. Under arbitrary forms of government kings may oppress the laborer, kings may conquer other nations; they may extort from, oppress, and degrade the men who till the soil, and they may thus acquire wealth, but in a Republic it is only when the citizen conquers nature, extorts her resources and appropriates her riches that you find real wealth and power.
We witness our development, we are proud of our success, we congratulate ourselves, we felicitate ourselves on all that we enjoy, but we scarcely ever stop to think of the cause of all this prosperity and enjoyment. Indeed, this prosperity has become so common that we expect it. Many men forget to what they owe it. The truth is, we live in this atmosphere of invention, it surrounds us as do the light and air; like light and air it is one of our greatest blessings, and yet we pass it by without thought. Some say that the cause of all this wealth, of all this influence in the world, springs from other sources; some say it is the result of our free institutions, of our Christian civilization, of our habits of industry, of our respect for law, of the vastness of our national resources, but I say inventive skill is the primal cause of all this progress and growth. I say the policy which found expression in the Constitution of the United States when this clause was enacted giving Congress power "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries: has been the policy which built up this fair fabric.
Concede all you claim; free institutions, Christian civilization, industrious habits; grant respect for law; acknowledge all our vast natural resources; and then deduct patents and patented inventions from the causes which have led to this development and you have subtracted from material, yes, from moral, prosperity nearly all that is worth enjoying. Subtract inventions from the causes which have led to our growth and our grandeur and you remit us, you remit our people, to the condition of the people of Italy, of Switzerland, of Russia. If "knowledge is power," invention is prosperity.
Let us turn a moment from the present and take a rapid glance at the past. Consider the country as it was fifty years ago. The cotton press, the steamboat, the railroad, the power loom, the printing press, were indeed in embryo, but their development was partial and their use extremely limited. It was still the age of homespun; it was still the age of hand labor. Brain had not, so far as production was concerned, superseded muscle. We had then twenty-six States. When the commencement of our present patent system really began there were twenty-six States in the Union. Twelve new ones and eight Territories added since are in my judgment a tribute to the inventive genius of this country and to the perfection of its patent system.
There are at least ten Senators occupying seats on the floor of the Senate today who would not be there but for the patent system of the United States.
Our conception of history in those days was only that of war and diplomacy. Industrial development formed no part of the history of a country in the estimation of statesmen and publicists.
Let me allude to my own State. I am not a very old man but recollection carries me back fifty years, when there was no railroads, no coal used, no steam power used, no woolen factories except of the rudest sort, no telegraph in Connecticut. Possibly there were one hundred tons of coal consumed in the State annually. It is possible that there was the rude beginning of a manufacturing establishment in which steam was the motive power, but practically there were none of these improvements in Connecticut. The people were rural and agricultural; a few shops, water furnishing the motive power, were scattered up and down the streams of the State, but almost the entire population were engaged in agriculture. It was a time when the hand brake and the hetchel prepared the flax which was raised within her borders, when hand spinning and the hand loom prepared it for use. My mind goes back and takes in the days of my early boyhood, when wool was carded by hand, when it was spun and woven by mothers and daughters, when it was then taken to the fanning mill, and then came the tailoress and in the household cut and made the cloth into garments for the use of the family. It was the day of the village shoemaker, the day of the grist mill, the day of the stage coach, the day of the pillion. There was no piano, no carpet, few books, hand sewing only, hand knitting, the tallow candle, the unwarmed, unlighted church, the school house with its hard, rough benches, and the slow post route, the mail but once a week, a weekly paper only. It was a week's journey from Connecticut to Washington; six week's journey from Connecticut to Ohio. Five thousand dollars in those days was a competence and ten thousand dollars was a fortune. What has accomplished all the transformation which we witness as we compare the condition of the country fifty years ago with its condition at the present day?
I insist, Mr. President, that it is traceable directly to invention. The railroad, the child of patented invention, the production of cotton, silk, broadcloth and linen, is due absolutely and entirely to the perfection of machinery for their daily manufacture. The daily press, the teeming books, are part of our civilization. They are all dependent upon patented inventions. The carpet, the carriage, the piano, conduce to our comfort and our convenience, and they also are children of patents. Every comfort which we have, every convenience which we enjoy, every element of wealth which we acquire, has its root and development in the patent system of this country. They are born of patents, and they live only by permission of patents.
For ten years there was a steady and rapid growth in the business of the Office and then it received another shock in the fire of 1877. During the period referred to the model room, which occupied the entire upper story of the building, had become filled with interesting models of inventions of every description, and was daily visited by scores of strangers who gazed with delight and curiosity upon these silent but expressive evidences of the inventive genius of the country. The fire originated in the model room, where about 12,000 rejected models were stored, and it made such rapid progress that at one time it seemed as if the firemen would be unable to get the flames under control and that the entire building would be destroyed. After three hours' hard fighting, however, it became evident that only the upper story of the western and portion of the northern wings would be lost. Fortunately the fire broke out in the day time, when the entire force of employees was at work, so that each could contribute his share toward the preservation of the valuable government records. Had the alarm been given at night it is not at all improbable that all the records of the Patent and General Land Offices, at least, would have been destroyed.
The model rooms of the Patent Office comprised the whole third story of the building, under a roof which was composed of extremely inflammable materials, and consisted of four grand halls opening into each other and affording a promenade of about one-fourth of a mile around the four sides of a quadrangle.
These magnificent halls were fitted up with tiers of cases, the room being sufficiently high for two tiers, one above the other. Each case was eight feet in height, by from sixteen to eighteen feet in length. They were made of white pine, with glass sides and ends. These cases were so placed that they were easy of access both to casual visitors and to inventors and examiners. The cases could be opened and their contents inspected at any time in the presence of an employee of the Patent Office. It contained about 200,000 models of American invention, besides many curiosities and mementos, specimens of home manufacture, and priceless treasures of deep historic interest. Among them were Washington's commission as commander- in-chief of the American forces, his uniform, camp chest, and other personal effects; the coat which General Jackson wore at the battle of New Orleans; the printing press first used by Benjamin Franklin, and many other interesting relics and trophies, all of which were saved.
In the fire of 1836 everything was destroyed -- models, drawings, specifications and records, and the office had to commence practically anew. In the fire of 1877, while the money value of the destruction was much greater, the actual loss was comparatively slight. After the earlier fire the business of the Patent Office was at a standstill, and it was necessary to carry on correspondence all over the country to restore the records of the work which had been performed. In 1877, although the extent of the conflagration was much greater -- and the number of models destroyed was many times larger than in the first fire -- there was practically no disturbance to the business of the office. Even had every drawing been lost its place could have been supplied by photolithographic copies; and this brings us to a most important subject, viz.: that of the reproduction of drawings by photolithography.
This is undoubtedly one of the most valuable auxiliaries to the business of the office. For many years the increasing demand for copies of drawings and illustrations was a matter of grave concern to the officials, and seriously taxed their ingenuity and patience. Patentees and those interested in certain classes of patents were compelled to order tracings or drawings made at considerable expense, occasioning vexatious delays, and hard work. Then, too, it became apparent that some means must be adopted for the preservation of the original drawings which were rapidly perishing by the action of time and continual handling. The attention of Congress was first called to the matter by Commissioner Mason, in 1856, as will be seen from the following quotation from his annual report of that year:
Another regulation of the English Patent Office which deserves to be imitated is that by which all patents that are issued are directed to be printed separately and sold at prices which will merely defray expenses. I regard such an arrangement as being in an eminent degree useful and desirable, for the following among other reasons: It would enable the office to furnish complete copies of any patent, including the drawings, for one-tenth part of what they cost at the present time. It would afford the means of placing a copy of all the patents wherever they are needed for the convenience of the office or of the public, instead of having only one single copy, as at present, for all to refer to, which is wanted often by two or more persons at the same time, and which becomes worn out, so as to require to be rewritten after the end of a few years. It would be source of economy in another particular, as the mechanical reports of this office might thus be abridged in a very great degree, as nothing further would be necessary in the annual reports than to make a complete and full analytical index of all the patents that had been issued through the year. If, in addition to what is above suggested, a copy of all the patents for the year, with the drawings attached, were deposited in the office of the Clerk of each District Court of the United States nothing further in this respect would seem to be requisite. The reports would point out the general nature of the inventions made within the year; whoever desired to obtain more minute information as to any particular case could for a few dimes obtain from the Patent Office a complete specification and drawing of the invention, and every State would be furnished with at least one complete copy of all the patents, deposited in the very place where it could be found most useful and convenient for the purpose of reference by litigants or inventors. To make the system complete, however, a like publication should be made of all previous patents, and also a complete analytical index of the whole. This would indeed be a work that would be worthy of the office and of the country. I feel a strong desire and a confident hope that this work will soon be commenced and consummated with all convenient dispatch.
Nothing was done, however, in the way of legislation in that direction until March, 1861, when an act was passed providing "that the Commissioner of Patents be, and he is hereby authorized to print, or, in his discretion, to cause to be printed, ten copies of the description and claims of all patents which may hereafter be granted, and ten copies of the drawings of the same, when drawings shall accompany the patents; provided, the cost of printing the text of said descriptions and claims shall not exceed, exclusive of stationery, the sum of two cents per hundred words for each of said copies, and the cost of the drawing shall not exceed fifty cents per copy; one copy of the above number shall be printed on parchment, to be affixed to the letters patent; the work shall be under the direction of and subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Patents, and the expense of the said copies shall be paid for out of the patent fund."
In accordance with this provision of the law, the first attempt was made to reproduce the drawings by some cheaper and more expeditious means than tracing.
A contract was therefore entered into, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, by the Hon. D.P. Holloway, then Commissioner of Patents, with Norris Peters, of Washington, D.C., for doing the work, commencing with the issue of March 2, 1861.
Ten copies of each of the drawings were made under this contract, by the silver print process, for the use of the office and for sale. Some of these are still in existence, and are great curiosities compared with the present complete and artistic reproductions. Continual experiments were made by the contractor for perfecting the process, but the war interfered so seriously with the patent business that the reproduction of the drawings was discontinued before the plan had been perfected.
The first attempt at photolithographic reproduction was made in January, 1870, and so successful was the effort that on July 1st of that year the first contract was entered into for reproducing the current issues by this process. It should be a matter of pride to Washingtonians that the experiments in this direction, which resulted so successfully, were begun and conducted in the Capital City where the art of photolithography has reached its highest perfection.
Applications for these copies increased rapidly, and although the system was in its infancy it gave such satisfaction and promised so well for the future that on July 1, 1871, the second contract for this work was entered into, three hundred copies of each patent being ordered on sheets 7 and 13-16 by 11 and 3-8 inches, the present size. This number was found to be in excess of the demand and was soon reduced to one hundred and fifty copies of each patent, which is the number still reproduced. During this year the success of the system was so fully established and the benefits derived, both by the public and the Office, so great that the reproduction of back work by classes of inventions was instituted, and copies could be obtained for twenty-five cents each, or, in any number exceeding twenty, for ten cents each. Before this system was inaugurated the average cost was two dollars per sheet.
The sale of these copies, in addition to being of incalculable benefit to the public, is also a very considerable revenue to the Office, as an average of at least four thousand copies are furnished each business day of the year, and the number is steadily increasing. The greatest value of the system, however, is the perfect security it gives to the records of the Office in case of fire, a practical illustration of which is furnished by the last conflagration. The original drawings of the issue of September 4, 1877, some three hundred in number, were in the model room at the time of the fire for the purpose of identifying the models for classification. They were entirely consumed, as were also the models belonging thereto; and had it not been that they had been reproduced great loss and annoyance would have been caused to patentees, the public, and the Office. This reproduction was done at small cost, and, in fact, returned a profit to the office in the copies sold, besides obviating loss or annoyance to any one. The Office repaired the damage at its leisure, and in the meantime protected all the rights of patentees.
Besides the regular edition of 150 copies, two copies of each drawing are printed on Whatman's double-elephant drawing paper. The practice is to deposit with each Examiner a set of these thick copies in each class and sub-class assigned to him for examination of applications for patents.
These he has immediately under his control, and by this means the examination of the originality of applications and the validity of patents are partially decided. Thus, even in the judicial work of the Examiners, there is a manifest saving of time and labor. The duplicate thick copy is filed in the Draftsman's Division, and there classified and arranged for the use of attorneys and others in inspecting cases cited as references in rejections of applications, etc. The constant handling of the originals is thus avoided.
The rules of the Office permit the original drawings to be taken to the rooms of the Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner, Chief Clerk, Board of Appeals, etc. Should a drawing happen to be in either of these rooms at the time an examination is made in that class it would greatly increase the liabaility of issuing defective patents. This evil is fully remedied by having sets of photos in each Examiner's room.
The photos are uniformly 7 13-16 by 11 3-8 inches in size, irrespective of the size of the originals, and, as some of the old drawings are very large, there is a greater reduction than in the current drawings, which, since the year 1871, the "Rules of Practice" have required to be 10 by 15. This makes the reduction in the photos only one-third, thus leaving the most intricate parts distinct, and easily understood.
The law requires the Commissioner of Patents "to deposit for free inspection one copy of the complete specifications and drawing of each patent issued in each Capitol of every State and Territory, one for the like purpose in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of each judicial district of the United States, except when such offices are located in the State or Territorial Capitols, and one in the Library of Congress, which copies shall be taken and received in all courts as evidence of all matters therein contained, and shall be certified under the hand of the Commissioner and seal of the Patent Office." It is evident that in remote parts of the country this must be a great convenience, and save long and expensive journeys to Washington. It is, for this reason alone, of immeasurable advantage to the general public, and in a legal and satisfactory manner serves the interests of all sections of the country.
The English, French, Belgian, German, Swedish, Austrian and Italian governments have for several years furnished the United States Patent Office, gratuitously, with copies of the series of patents issued in those countries, which complement the United States is now enabled to return.
It is of great advantage to firms and individuals having an interest in special classes of patents to receive, within a few days after issuance, copies of all patents in the classes they desire. It is requisite for this purpose to have on deposit to their credit a sum sufficient to cover the cost, at the rate of ten cents per copy. All branches of the Government desiring them are also furnished with copies of patents of interest to the various Departments. Many copies are thus supplied free of cost weekly to the Smithsonian Institution, War and Navy Departments, the Surgeon General, committees experimenting in fire arms, torpedo warfare, etc., and the several United States arsenals.
As the reproduction of drawings by photolithography has proved to be one of the most important branches of the work of the Patent Office, and as this method of disseminating the knowledge of inventions has been demonstrated to be of the utmost value both to the Government and to every branch of industry into which the mechanical arts enter, the history of the various steps which have led to its present high state of perfection will be of the utmost interest. Although the Commissioner of Patents was authorized to print ten copies of the description and the drawings issued as early as 1861, there was no intelligent and persistent effort made to utilize this authority until 1869. During the early part of that year Hon. S.S. Fisher, then Commissioner of Patents, who fully recognized the necessity of reproducing the drawings, decided, with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, to experiment in this direction, and ordered that twelve copies each, full size of the original drawings, be reproduced by the firm of Peters and Rehn, by the photographic process. These copies did not fully meet the requirements of the office and the public, consequently the method of reproducing was changed to the comparatively new art of photolithography, and twelve copies each, full size of the originals, commencing with the issues of January, 1870, were printed by a process patented and owned by Messrs. Peters and Rehn.
The result was so satisfactory that on July 1st, of the same year, the first contract was entered into for reproducing twelve copies of each of the weekly issues by this process, and the contract was awarded to Messrs. Peters and Rehn.
In his report to Congress for that year, Mr. Fisher said:
A contract was made in June last with Messrs. Peters and Rehn, upon terms advantageous to the office, and the weekly issues have been regularly photographed ever since. The quality of the copies thus produced has steadily improved as difficulties have been overcome and the work has become more familiar, until it is now performed in the most satisfactory manner, both to the office and the public. During the year experiments have been made in other methods of engraving and printing the drawings.
Applications for these copies rapidly increased, and although the system was yet in its infancy, it gave such satisfaction and promised so well for the future that the reproduction of the drawings of patents issued prior to July, 1869, was ordered.
The American Photolithographic Company of New York proposed, as an experiment, (without expense to the Office, except the cost of tracings,) to reproduce by the photolithographic process ten copies each, full size of originals, of the issues of June, 1869.
This offer was accepted, as well as an offer from the firm of French, Langran & Ogilvie, of this city, to furnish at a nominal price twelve copies each of the issues of May 1869, by the lithographic process.
In the report already quoted from Mr. Fisher said:
The experiments have led to the conclusion that for a few copies for office use photography is the cheapest process; while for a large edition, either of the back drawings or of the current issues, lithography or photolithography must be employed.
The result of these experiments demonstrated the superiority of photolithography over all other processes for this class of work; consequently a contract was entered into with Messrs. Peters and Rehn, of Washington, D.C., to reproduce the drawings of back issues, commencing with the issues of March 1868, and extending back to November 26, 1867. Subsequently the Commissioner decided that, as there was a large demand for copies by classes of inventions, it would be advantageous to so reproduce them. Three hundred copies each were printed 7 and 13-16 by 11 and 3-8 inches in size, from tracings made by the Office. This class of work was attended with great labor, requiring exceeding care, knowledge, and skill on the part of the contractors.
Congress having made the required appropriations, on the 1st of July, 1871, the second attempt was made to reproduce the drawings of the weekly issues of Patents, and the contract was awarded to the American Photolithographic Company of New York City. Three hundred copies of each were printed at first, 7 and 13-16 by 11 and 3-8 inches in size, but the Office finding after a few months that this number exceeded the demand, the edition was reduced to one hundred and fifty copies each at proportionately advanced rates.
The American Photolithographic Company received the contract for the current work until July, 1874, when it was awarded to the Graphic Company of New York city, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1875.
The work from July, 1875, to October 10, 1876, was performed by Norris Peters, of this city. Congress had delayed making appropriations for the work; therefore advertisements for new bids were not made until August 13, 1876. Much controversy took place pending the award of the contract concerning price, time, and quality of work.
The result was that the question of lowest bid carried the day, and the contract was given to James R. Osgood & Co. of Boston, Mass. The experience of a few months proved this to have been an expensive experiment and the occasion of annoying delays to the Office, inventors, and attorneys. Osgood & Co. failing to comply with the terms of the contract, it was annulled November 29, 1876, and awarded to the Graphic Company, of New York city, on their bid of August 31, 1876.
The serious trouble of delay not having been obviated by the change, Hon. Z. Chandler, Secretary of the Interior, decided to re-let the contract, and proposals were called for December 13, 1876. The experience of the Office during the past three months had fully shown that what is cheapest in price is not always so in fact. When the bids were opened and the subject again under discussion due consideration was given to the essential requisite of promptness, which was urged with great force by the solicitors practicing before the Office, in a hearing before Assistant Secretary Gorham and the Commissioner of Patents. The matter was referred to a committee, who examined the specimens submitted with the several bids. The Commissioner decided, in view of the report of said committee and the various interests involved, that it was for the interests of the Government to award the contract to Norris Peters, of Washington, D.C., who has performed the work under successive contracts to the present time.
The causes which led to the belief that the work could be more satisfactorily done in Washington than elsewhere, and that have continued to confirm that belief cannot be better illustrated than by quoting from the Congressional Record of May 14, 1879:
The next amendment was, in line 1789, after the words "Commissioner of Patents," to strike out "whenever it can" and insert "and in the city of Washington if it can there:" and in line 1791, after the word "the," to strike out "Commissioner" and insert "Secretary of the Interior;" so as to make the clause read:
For photolithographing, or otherwise producing copies of the weekly issues of drawings, to be attached to patents and copies, $35,000; the work of said photolithographing, or otherwise producing plates and copies, referred to in this and the two preceding paragraph is to be done under the supervision of the Commisioner of Patents, and in the City of Washington, if it can be done at reasonable rates to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Interior; and the Commissioner of Pataents, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, is authorized to make contracts therefor.
Mr. BECK. I know there will be some discussion about this matter, and I will say that the committee had a great deal of trouble about it. Before any discussion is had, I should be glad to send to the clerk's desk, to be read, a communication from the Secretary of the Interior upon the subject. The committee had a good deal of difficulty about the clause. The Senator from Minnesota [Mr. Windom] addressed a communication to the Secretary, in the absence of the chairman. I desire to have this reply read, because this is a clause will provoke some discussion, and I desire Senators shall have the communication of the Secretary before them before the discussion begins.
The chief clerk read as follows:
"DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
WASHINGTON, May 10, 1879
Sir: In response to the communication of yesterday upon the subject of photolithographing for the Patent Office, I transmit herewith a statement upon the subject, from which it appears that former experiments of having the work done outside of this city have resulted in failure, annoyance, and loss to the Treasury.
Very respectfully, C. SCHURZ, Secretary
Hon. WILLIAM WINDOM,
United States Senate
Hon. C. SCHURZ, Secretary of the Interior:
In response to your request of the 9th instant the following data are submitted, giving some of the reasons why the work of photolithographing the weekly issues of patents should be done in the City of Washington:
First. The drawings of the weekly issues of patents are numbered, dated, etc., prior to their date, in anticipation of issuance, to enable the office to receive and examine proofs of drawings and specifications, print copies, correct errors, print Official Gazette, etc., so that on the date of a patent the same are ready for sale and delivery.
Second. The drawings from which reproductions are made (as delivered to contractors) are passed cases only, therefore are pending applications and not patents. The rules of the office are imperative that no information relative thereto shall be given to unauthorized parties. Evidently if the work were performed outside of the city great facilities would be afforded for obtaining such information as would imperil the interests of inventors.
Third. The necessity of accessibility for reference at any moment and at all times is imperative for the reconsideration of examiners' actions and comparison with proofs of specifications.
Fourth. A serious objection is that correction of errors as suggested on rejected proofs of drawings cannot be made without comparison with the original drawings.
Fifth. These drawings should not leave the city, as they are the only official record, until reproduced in existence, and if damaged or destroyed could not be replaced without great loss to inventors and the office.
Sixth. That in the limited time (namely, one and one- half days from delivery of drawings to contractor) for the receipt of proof sheet it would be impossible to perform the work elsewhere.
Seventh. That the original drawings from which examinations for patents are made would have to be retained in their proper folios at least one month after the date of the patents for the reproduction of the quarto-page or library edition, thus rendering the issuing of defective patents possible.
Eighth. In order to issue the Official Gazette with even date of issue of patents, it is imperative that proofs of drawings should be available within the specified time, as the Gazette is reproduced from said proof sheets.
The experiment has been twice tried of having this class of work done in other places since September, 1876, and in both cases the delay in receipt of copies and retarding of the office work necessitated the annulling of the contracts. It caused endless annoyance and loss to inventors, attorneys and the office, and a corresponding decrease in money receipts for copies by the office.
The photolithographic reproduction of drawings of weekly issue of patents has been performed in this city ever since 1869, with the exception of two years and three months when the negatives were made here. The office furnished a room free of cost, constructing sky-lights, etc., for the use of the contractors.
The American Photolithograph Company of New York was the first company outside of Washington that received a contract for this class of work. A brief synopsis of a memorandum relative thereto, dated September 18, 1876, is submitted:
"The greatest delay occurred in the retention of the drawings for the quarto-page edition, the contractors failing in time. In some instances the drawings were retained from the office folios for two or three months after the issuance of the patents, thus endangering the interests of inventors by the liability of the office granting defective patents."
Complaints naturally arose in the delay in the general work of the office by such retention, and especially in the withholding of patents from issue, many being held for weeks after their regular date of issue awaiting correct copies of the drawings, which had to be sent from New York. The second attempt to let this work outside the city was in September, 1876, a contract having been made with Osgood & Co., of Boston, Massachusetts.
On the 17th of October, 1876, the following report was furnished relative to their work:
PATENT OFFICE, October 17, 1876
Sir: We have the honor, respectfully, to report in regard to the current drawings under the Osgood contract.
Out of two hundred and fifty-one cases in issue of October 10, 1876, embracing about the same number of drawings, proofs of one hundred and twenty-nine sheets of drawings have been received. These proofs came in four lots. Of the first three lots making ninety drawings, but two were accepted by the proof-readers. Of the last lost of thirty-eight drawings, twenty-one are accepted and seventeen rejected.
The last lot of drawings above referred to was accompanied by the annexed letter from Osgood & Co. The drawings were thus evidently prepared with care after knowledge of former rejections.
Under the contract the office had the right to demand the full number of one hundred and fifty printed copies of the drawings before this date, though it is fair to say that this part of the contract has never been very rigidly insisted on. The advance proof, however, is imperatively required, and, averaging the time, has all been due four days, instead of which we have proof in little more than half the cases, and only twenty-three cases are accepted, less than 10 per cent of the whole issue. The work of October 17 should have been in hand five days ago, but was stopped owing to the unsatisfactory character of the drawings of October 10.
The work of Osgood and Co. is very inferior, as will be seen by examination of the proofs submitted. There is a general tendency to rottenness or raggedness of lines. Some of the lines, it will be observed, thicken instead of reducing under the camera. Where the work is at all close there is a tendency to fill up, and shaded portions appear in blotches. The shading on cylindrical parts looks crowded. Many of the clearest lines are entirely broken.
As a whole the work is much inferior to any which has been received by the office under any former contract, and in large proportion of cases the reproductions cannot be certified as true copies of the originals.
Respectfully, A.A. YEATMAN W.A. BARTLETT
Hon. R.H. DUELL Commissioner of Patents"
On the 29th of November, 1876, their contract was annulled, as see:
PATENT OFFICE, November 29, 1876
It is hereby ordered that the contract for photolithographic work between James R. Osgood & Co. of the first part, and the United States, by R.H. Duell, of the second part, dated the 8th day of September 1876, be annulled and considered of no effect from and after this date, said party of the first part having failed to comply with the terms of the contract as to quality of work and time of its delivery.
In view of the above, the Graphic Company being the next lowest bidder were addressed as follows:
NOVEMBER 29, 1876
MANAGERS OF THE GRAPHIC COMPANY:
GENTLEMEN: The firm of Osgood & Co. having failed to comply with the terms of their agreement in regard to time for delivery of their work, their contract for printing current and one-quarter page work has been annulled.
If you can undertake to do the work at once on the usual conditions as set forth in office circular of August 15, your bid of August 31 will be accepted.
R.H. DUELL, Commissioner
The said company failing in time and quality of work, their contract was also annulled, as see:
DECEMBER 13, 1876
MANAGERS OF THE GRAPHIC COMPANY:
GENTLEMEN: As you were before notified, the Secretary of the Interior has decided that the contract for current work must be relet, and advertisements to that effect have been issued.
I am informed that a large proportion of the cases on which you are at present at work are not satisfactory, and am directed to abrogate the agreement under which you are now working.
R.H. DUELL, Commissioner
The failure in time, etc., necessitated reletting the work, and bids having been received a contract was entered into with the resident contractor, who was to receive the work from January, 1877, with orders to complete the missing cases from and including the issue of October 10, 1876.
The following summary of time of receipt of work under non-resident contractors is submitted:
Osgood & Co., minimum time between receipt of first drawing and first proof ........................ 6 days Graphic Company, minimum time between receipt of first drawing and first proof .................. 5 days Osgood & Co., maximum time ........................ 48 days Graphic Company, maximum time ..................... 62 days
The class of work referred to should not be confounded with the reproduction and publication of the Official Gazette, as its only connection with said Gazette is the necessity of furnishing on time the proofs from which the plates of the Gazette are printed.
In conclusion, I beg leave to state that in every attempt to perform this class of work in other cities the result has been endless annoyance and loss of money to inventors and the office. It also has given just cause of complaint, and must be in all respects considered a most vexatious, expensive experiment. The absolute failure of three companies of good standing and evident facilities to perform the work demonstrates the utter inexpediency of sending from this city this class of work, which demands the utmost promptness and attention in its execution.
F.A. SEELY, Chief Clerk
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE
May 10, 1879
Respectfully forwarded to the honorable Secretary of the Interior.
Commissioner of Patents
Mr. BECK. I only desire to say that this amendment was based upon that communication and a personal statement made to us by General Paine, the Commissioner of Patents, fully indorsing and corroborating what is said in that paper. He believes it indispensable that he shall have the right to have this work done here in Washington, if he can, and we give him authority. However, if he cannot have it done here without being imposed upon, then to resort to the next best means to have in done in proper shape. I am free to say that where work can be done under bids and given to the lowest bidder, ordinarily, I think it ought to be done in that way; but the Secretary and Commissioner seemed to make out such a strong case in the statement just read that the committee believed we ought to make the amendment that we have proposed. Several gentlemen, especially the Senator from Massachusetts, now absent, [Mr. Dawes,] called my attention to the fact that great complaint was made about it, and I thought before discussion was had the communication had better be read.
Mr. HOAR. I have no personal information in regard to this matter; but my colleague, who is absent, [Mr. Dawes,] left some papers with me and desired me to call the attention of the Senate to this subject.
As I understand it, this matter was very fully discussed, and the reasons which are set forth in the letter that has been read before the committee of the last House, and they adhered to the law as found in the text of the present bill, and the present House have done the same thing.
I do not understand, whatever force may be given to the reasons which have been read at the clerk's desk, why it was deemed necessary by the committee to take away at the request of the Commissioner of Patents his own discretion in the matter. If the reasons which are in the mind of the Commissioner of Patents cannot be removed, then of course he will make a contract for this work in Washington under the original bill; but if they are removed, then it seems to me he ought to have the right to make the contract wherever he chooses.
This amendment transfers the jurisdiction over the matter from the Commissioner of Patents to the Secretary of the Interior, who certainly has very little personal familiarity with the subject; and it requires the Secretary to make his contract in the city of Washington, if the work can be done in the city of Washington at reasonable rates. It may turn out that there may be some other difficulty with the work done in Washington besides the reasonableness of the rates, or that all the evil which is set forth in the Commissioner's communication can be removed or guarded against. I do not see any connection at all between the letter which has just been read and the amendment recommended by the committee. The Commissioner says that in his judgment it is for the public interest to have this work done in Washington. Very well. The committee thereupon say that the discretion over that matter shall be removed from the Commissioner and transferred to the Secretary of the Interior. It certainly is not a very logical result from the proposition.
Mr. KERNAN. Mr. President --
Mr. BECK. Before the Senator from New York proceeds allow me to say that as these officers desired it to be done in the city of Washington, and done at reasonable rates, the Committee on Appropriations thought they were adding an additional safeguard when they said it should be done to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Interior instead of the Commissioner of Patents, and then authorized the Commissioner of Patents, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, to make the contract. As it was somewhat of a departure from the ordinary way of making contracts, we thought it was safer to have the sanction of both the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Patents rather than leave it all to the Commissioner of Patents.
Mr. HOAR. I desire to inquire of the Senator from Kentucky if the committee's amendment does not remove from the discretion of the Commissioner of Patents the vital question whether the work can be done at reasonable rates in the city of Washington, and transfer that to the Secretary of the Interior, except so far as the law makes it absolute and not discretionary? That was my point.
Mr. BECK. Our idea was that as the contracts were to be made under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior by the Commissioner of Patents, it might be an additional safeguard to have the Secretary determine whether the rates are reasonable, and then to allow the contract to be made by the Commissioner under his direction, instead of having it all done by the Commissioner of Patents without allowing the Secretary of the Interior to see it, he being the chief of that Department, and the Commissioner of Patents being one of his bureau officers. In the conference at the last session both Houses, so far as they agreed on anything, concurred in the same language in substance that we now propose, except that it read thus:
And the Commissioner of Patents, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, is authorized to make contracts therefor.
Mr. KERNAN. Mr. President, this bill, if I am correctly informed, was reported to the House in the form that it is now substantially in this regard. In other words, the bill as introduced there required the work to be done in the city of Washington. Upon attention being called to the fact that there was but one party in this city who is prepared to do the work here, the House by an almost unanimous vote struck out the restriction that the work should be done in this city, and sent the bill here in the form that it came to the Senate.
I wish to call the attention of the gentlemen of the committee to the propriety of retaining this clause of the bill as it passed the House, changing the word "whenever," in line 1789, to "wherever." Then it would leave the Secretary discretion enough to protect the Government, while he might invite persons elsewhere to compete for the work. The clause would then read: "the work to be done under the supervision of the Commissioner of Patents wherever it can be done at reasonable rates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner," or the Secretary, if you choose to make that change. That is the language of the House bill. If we leave it, changing the word "whenever," if that be not a misprint, to "wherever," leaving the work to be done under the direction of the Commissioner of Patents wherever it can be done at reasonable rates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, I think it will be in the proper shape.
My attention was called to this, I will frankly say, by a person living elsewhere, who had at a former period done some of this work. Of course I listened to the communications from the Secretary of the Interior and the head of the Patent Office, and they have great weight with me; but if you put this language in the form proposed by the committee, the Secretary will regard it as a legislative direction, I think, that he shall give the work to the one party in the city of Washington, for I understand, and the committee probably will confirm me, that there is but one party here who can do the work.
I think if we leave the House bill as it is, with the simple change of the word "whenever" to "wherever," it will enable the Secretary to have the work done wherever it can be done to his satisfaction, and let parties in New York and Philadelphia and Boston (as I understand there are parties who do this work in all these places) have an opportunity to compete. Then the Secretary can at least say to the party here, "You must do it lower than you offer, or I will try to make more satisfactory arrangements with these other parties." Therefore I submit to the committee that it should be put in this form and not left to be construed as a legislative direction that the Secretary shall contract with only one party in the city of Washington.
Mr. CHANDLER. Mr. President, this matter of photolithographing is a very important matter indeed. These photolithographs are official; they are used in courts; they are really, when issued, official evidence; and it is very important that the work should be well done. When I assumed the control of the Interior Department I found a contract with some party at a distance, and great complaint was made not only of delays, which were of daily and hourly occurrence, but of imperfect work.
This is a matter of profit to the Government. My impression is, without absolute recollection, that these things cost about half a cent apiece and are sold by the Department for about ten cents apiece; I speak in round sums without being accurate as to fractions. It is of absolutely vital importance that the work should not only be promptly done under the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior or the Commissioner of Patents or some man with authority to see that it is properly done under his eye, but that it should be so done as to be ready when wanted. I think the requirement that it shall be done at reasonable rates gives the Secretary absolute discretion to use his own judgment in having it done her or elsewhere; and I think that the amendments of the committee are eminently judicious and proper for the interest of the Government as well as the bureau, and I hope the amendments will be adopted precisely as the committee have recommended.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. (Mr. Rollins in the chair) The question is on the amendment proposed by the Committee on Appropriations, in lines 1789 and 1791.
The amendment was agreed to.
As far back as 1872 difficulties and delays arose from letting these contracts to the lowest bidder, irrespective of location, as the following extract from a letter of Hon. M.D. Leggett, at that time Commissioner of Patents, to Osgood & Co., of Boston, Mass., under date of July 18, of that year will show:
I then determined to continue the photolithographic work in the hands of the two firms then doing it, provided they would contract to do it at fair rates; for a year ago we had a sad experience in getting the work into successful operation with a new firm, especially as far off as New York. It was nearly three months before the work was satisfactorily executed in time and quantity, and occasioned immense vexation in the office and complaint all over the country.
I then determined never to repeat the experiment if I could avoid it, unless there was to be great gain in some way by making the change. I should advocate a change at once if the work could all be done here in Washington, where it ought all to be done. If you will make a proposition at the end of the present year to do the work in Washington, you shall have the work if I am here, and shall have my influence if I am not. I was desirous of giving you a portion of the work, but up to the time of deciding the matter I had never made inquiry as to mails or express. Upon inquiry, I found that the time occupied in sending matter to and from Boston would make it impossible to have the current work done at such distance, and hence, without reference to the price or quality of your work, I could not send it to Boston to be done. I ought to have considered this matter of time before asking for your bid, and for this neglect I beg your pardon.
The mater of time is very important. Even three day's difference on those intended for office use would be fatal to a contract, even if the work could be done for nothing.
When the last contract was taken away from this firm in 1876, and awarded to Mr. Peters, the Evening Star of December 27, 1876, made the following comment:
A hearing was had today before Assistant Secretary of the Interior Gorham and the Commissioner of Patents on the subject of the award of the contracts for photolithographic drawings of patents. The bidders were the Graphic Company and the American Photolithographic Company of New York, and Norris Peters, of this city. The bids were very nearly the same. The solicitors of patents practising before the office appeared at the hearing today by Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Dyer, and Mr. Dodge, and presented the difficulties and delays incident to sending the work away from this city to be done. The law requires the work to be let to the lowest bidder "for the interests of the Government." It was considered that the difference in the cost was not sufficient to compensate for the trouble and delay that would be occasioned by sending the work to the city of New York, and the contract was awarded to Mr. Peters. This is the same work for which a contract was some time since awarded to Osgood & Co., of Boston, but which was annulled for want of prompt execution of the work by reason of which the business of the Patent Office was greatly embarrassed.
Since the year 1876 the work of photolithographing for the Office has been performed by the same contractor. Each year, before the renewal of the contract, the matter has been the subject of report by experts, who have invariably recommended that no change could be made with advantage to the Government. Whenever bids have been asked for the present contractor has been enabled to secure the work by being the lowest bidder, all things considered. Though other parties have sometimes been a few dollars lower in the aggregate of their estimates, it has been deemed best to have the work done in Washington, under the supervision of the Office and within the reach of the Commissioner and his subordinates, so that any alteration or modification could be immediately effected without delaying the issue of patents. The high character of the work, and the promptness and efficiency with which it has been performed, are the results of years of study with this particular class of work. The present contractor has built up an industry which is a specialty. He has every facility for the speedy execution of any work which the Office may require, and his long experience is a guarantee that nothing but the highest class of work shall issue from his establishment. The only attempt since October, 1876, to change the contractor for the photolithographic work of the Patent Office was in July, 1885. The experience of that change will probably not induce a second trial in that direction.
When the new administration came into power a new Commissioner of Patents was appointed. Against the Patent Office, as against other bureaus of the Government, there were numerous allegations of irregularities on the part of officials and clerks, and it was but natural that the new Commissioner should enter upon his duties with the feeling that reforms would be necessary. Before he had become thoroughly conversant with the routine work of the Office he was confronted with the statements that there had been favoritism shown in the matter of the photolithographic work; that one contractor had enjoyed a monopoly of the contract for several years; that this contractor was making an enormous profit out of the Government.
Careful inquiry was made by the Commissioner, and he became fully satisfied that all charges of favoritism in behalf of the contractor were purely imaginative; still, he thought that if other parties could effectively perform the work for less money, there was no reason why the Government should not reap the benefit of the reduced expenditure.
The Commissioner ordered that one issue of patents and the same issue of the Official Gazette be turned over to Bell Bros., of Washington, for execution, with the understanding that the work was to be promptly performed, and its character up to the required standard. When the work was submitted for examination it was found to be far inferior to that which the Office had been accustomed to receive and the public had a right to demand. As the time neared for the issue it became manifest to the Commissioner not only that these parties could not execute work of the standard required, but, also, that the issue would be greatly delayed. This issue of patents was delayed twenty-one days, awaiting receipt of bond copies to accompany and form part of the letters patent. The work upon the Official Gazette had not been commenced, and the Gazette of July 7, 1885, was not placed in the hands of its subscribers until August 30.
On July 7, 1885, the following circular was forwarded to the patrons of the Official Gazette:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE
Washington, July 7, 1885
TO THE PATRONS OF THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE OF THE UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE
An unavoidable delay in the issue of the Official Gazette of this date has occurred in consequence of the fact that the Patent Office sent the photolithographing of this issue away from the original contractor as an experiment, and the gentlemen who undertook it have found it impossible to furnish the work in season.
The Official Gazette of this date will appear shortly, and will be mailed to subscribers immediately upon its publication.
The numbers for July 14th, and all subsequent dates, will issue regularly as heretofore.
Commissioner of Patents
And in the Official Gazette the following notice appeared:
This number of the Official Gazette is gotten out by Mr. Norris Peters, the former and present contractor, at my special request. The illustrations are from the weekly issue of reproductions by other parties. If there are errors or imperfections in such reproductions Mr. Peters is not responsible therefor, nor is he responsible for the delay in this publication.
Commissioner of Patents
Only once before in the history of the Office, since the patents and Gazette had been issued in their present shape, had there been a failure on the part of the Office to present them on the day of their date. Coming, as this delinquency did, at the very onset of his administration, it was peculiarly mortifying to the Commissioner. He had endeavored to do what he believed to be for the best interest of the Government, and regretted that he had been deceived in the representations made to him by this firm and their friends. The letters of anxious patentees and their attorneys, manufacturers and others who were subscribers for the Gazette, inquiring when they might look for their patents, and when they could expect to receive the Gazette, caused much annoyance, especially as most of the writers upbraided the Office for needless delay. In this dilemma the Commissioner could only turn to the former contractor, and ask that he would help him out of the difficulty, at the same time renewing the contract. Since then patents and Official Gazette have been issued each week with their former punctuality and excellence.
The fire of 1877, in which the models stored in the west and north wings were destroyed, caused also the destruction of many photolithographic copies of drawings. In the report upon the damage in this respect made at the time, it was stated as follows:
The loss by fire and water of photo-lithographic copies of drawings, it is estimated will amount to 40,000 sets, or 150 copies each, or about 600,000 copies in all. This material is to be classed as "stock on hand," and not as "original records." The drawings were copies only, and they can be replaced at an estimated expense of $60,000. Thirty patented drawings, in the class of wood-working machinery, which were in the hands of tracers in the model-rooms, were lost, as were also the models. Many of them can be restored in time from the specifications attached to the original letters-patent, but it will be attended with difficulty, and the exercise of great care and judgment in the designations of figures. Three original patented drawings of different classes of inventions, which were being traced in the model- room to fill orders from attorneys, were destroyed. Two of these, having been traced some three months back for photo- lithographic reproduction, were at once restored by being mounted upon card-board. The remaining drawing can be restored from the model. There were also some ten drawings, specifications, and models destroyed of incomplete applications, they being in the hands of model draftsmen in the west hall of model-room who were engaged in making drawings therefrom to fill orders. The applicants can be notified of the loss, and requested to furnish new models and specifications, upon receipt of which the Office will resume the work of completing the drawings. Eleven volumes of English patented drawings are missing. Nine of them were known to be in the model-room, and were undoubtedly destroyed. Duplicates have already been ordered from England. Many other minor losses occurred which would require too much space to mention. The total loss cannot be estimated in dollars and cents.
Commissioner of Patents Spear in addressing the Secretary of the Interior upon this subject said:
The Office has experienced a serious loss in the almost entire destruction of the bulk of photolithographic copies it had on hand. There was every prospect that, at the end of the present year, we would have had complete sets of every patent drawing; but, unfortunately, the fire has prevented this consummation. As the destruction of the models in a large class of highly important industrial patents has left the Office with only the original drawings upon which to rely and base its researches, the rapid reproduction of the copies of such drawings is extremely necessary; for, under the circumstances, the loss of the originals would be well-nigh irreparable, and the Office cannot afford to assume any risks in the matter. A portion of the money necessary to secure the rapid reproduction of copies of the drawings forms an item in a deficiency estimate accompanying this, and to which I shall have the honor to refer hereafter; but as the work cannot be all accomplished during the existing fiscal year I have estimated that the sum of $30,000 will be required for its completion during the year beginning July, 1878.
For photolithographing the drawings of current issue I have asked for $40,000.
The actual amount paid for this work during the last fiscal year was $30,150.20, some of which was done in a very imperfect manner under a contract at a low rate, which was subsequently annulled because of the failure of the parties to comply with its terms respecting the character of the work and the promptitude of its execution.
The same amount of work under the present contract, at ten mills per copy, would cost $45,000. The issues will increase in number yearly, and it is hardly probable that the price for first-class work, expeditiously and safely done, can be reduced much below ten mills per copy.
For the Official Gazette I have asked for $40,000.
The work of reproducing the burnt work was performed by the present contractor, and was executed with the same care and fidelity that has marked his entire business with the Office.
The policy of "promoting the useful arts," which originally was declared to be the object of our patent system, has from the beginning been encouraged by liberal appropriations for the dissemination of information concerning their progress. As early as 1805 Congress ordered to be printed, and gratuitously distributed, lists giving the names and residences of inventors, and the titles and dates of inventions.
This was continued until 1843, when a demand for something concerning the essence of the invention was recognized, and the claims were added to the lists.
In 1853, when patents had become more numerous and inventors more practical and inquiring, a further advance was required, and a brief of the invention and suitable illustrations were added to the claims. Thus these publications grew, step by step, in response to popular demand, into what came at last to be the standard Patent Office Report, of which vast editions, at great expense, were freely distributed over the country, as the following table will show:
1843, one vol., 3,000 sets
1844, one vol., 3,000 sets
1845, one vol., 7,000 sets
1846, one vol., 7,000 sets
1847, one vol., 30,000 sets
1848, one vol., 45,000 sets
1849, one vol., 65,000 sets
1850, one vol., 31,420 sets
1851, one vol., 77,000 sets
1852, one vol., 77,000 sets
1853, one vol., 72,000 sets
1854, two vols., 89,920 sets
1855, two vols., 89,920 sets
1856, three vols., 89,950 sets
1857, three vols., 32,950 sets
1858, three vols., 32,950 sets
1859, two vols., 68,550 sets
1860, two vols., 66,550 sets
1861, two vols., 26,550 sets
1862, two vols., 41,550 sets
1863, two vols., 26,550 sets
1864, two vols., 20,550 sets
1865, three vols., 20,550 sets
1866, three vols., 20,550 sets
1867, four vols., 20,550 sets
1868, four vols., 31,650 sets
1869, three vols., 20,675 sets
1870, two vols, ------ sets
1871, three vols, ------ sets
That there was a wasteful number of the old reports printed, and a reckless system of distribution employed, no one doubts; but it cannot be denied that the marvelous growth of invention in this country is, after all, largely attributable to this liberality, and the benefits conferred exceed by many hundred- fold the expenditures.
But, in 1871, Congress discontinued the publication of the reports, and provided instead for the distribution of not exceeding one hundred and fifty sets of the printed specifications and drawings of all patents issued after that date, to the capital of each State and Territory, and to the office of the clerk of each United States District Court.
Practically this amounted to a denial to the public of the benefits which Congress intended to confer by the change, as only two or three copies would go to many of the States, and those would be so far from the main body of inventors as to be unavailable for reference.
But these one hundred and fifty "sealed books' failed almost wholly to supply the public want, and a year later were supplemented by the Official Gazette, substantially in its present form, eight copies of which are furnished to each member of Congress for distribution, for placement in the public libraries of their districts, and one for personal use. About four thousand are sold annually to subscribers. The Gazette was instituted in 1872, the first appropriation being made for a part of the fiscal year 1871-'72. Its institution was a measure of economy, since its cost was much less than that of the Annual Reports which it superseded, while the promptness of its issue and the wise means adopted for its distribution enhanced its usefulness beyond computation.
The work of photolithographing the drawings of current-issue patents was begun the same year, and has been continuous. The tracing of old drawings, preparatory to photolithographing, was begun in 1869. Reproducing was commenced in 1871 and was completed in 1877-'78. No appropriation has since been required for it, with the exception of what was necessary to reproduce copies destroyed in the fire of September 24, 1877, and this work is now completed. The work of tracing drawings is reduced to a minimum, and must, in all probability be continued in future to fill orders for facsimile copies of foreign patents, etc.
Of these appropriations a considerable amount, in addition to that made specifically for salaries, was always, until a few years ago, available for the employment of temporary clerks and laborers. Of the Gazette appropriation all that was not required to pay the contractors for photolithographic work, which amount has varied from year to year, was expended for pay of necessary help. In the appropriation for reproducing "burnt" work was a proviso for temporary draftsmen, and a small amount was required for clerical labor in arranging, heading, revising, etc., made necessary by the character of the work and its peculiar condition. The appropriation for tracing has all been expended in the employment of tracers, whose pay has varied from $83 to $55 a month, the work having mostly been done by the piece.
Other publications, both in pamphlet and book form, have been issued by the Office, or under its sanction and authority, which have given the public full information relative to the operation of the system under which patents are granted. Some of these have been prepared by experienced officials who have been employed in the Office for many years, and are therefore standard works of reference to attorneys and others transacting business with the Patent Office. Among these may be mentioned two compiled by the present Chief Clerk, Mr. Schuyler Duryee, which have already attained a wide circulation, and which have been highly commended. These are "Assignments of Patent Rights," and "Patents, Trade-Marks and Labels," in both of which the information is of the fullest character, and, of necessity, correct. J.T. Allen's Digest of Seeders, Plows, etc., is also a work of great merit.
As but few persons have an idea of the many hands through which an application for a patent must pass before it is finally acted upon and granted or rejected, the following history of its progress is given for general information:
OFFICE ROUTINE IN PATENT CASES
1. An application for letters patent, including the first or examination fee, the petition for a grant, the specification and drawing, is received at the Patent Office, either through the mail, by express or by hand.
2. When the application arrives by mail or is delivered by hand the fee is received by the financial clerk. The drawing and papers are sent, with a memorandum of the fee to the Application room.
3. Matter sent by express is received by the clerk in charge of receipt of models, who makes a daily record of the parts received, including fees, which latter are delivered daily to the financial clerk, who accounts for the same.
4. The drawing and papers are sent by him to the Application room, the several parts received being noted upon the specification for guidance in indorsing the application file wrapper. Here an alphabetical record is made of all applications, showing the name of the applicant, his residence, the title of the invention, name of attorney, date of receipt, and the name of examiner to whom it is sent. A separate account of fees received is also kept, including first and final fees in applications, fees in design, reissue and trade-mark cases, labels, and in appeals.
5. In the Application room the papers in each application receive the official stamp, indicating the day of their receipt, and are placed in a file wrapper, upon which are endorsed the name and residence of the applicant, the subject of invention, the date of receipt of petition, affidavit, specification and drawing, and the name and address of the attorney, if there be any.
6. Meanwhile the drawing is sent to the Drafting division for inspection as to its mechanical execution. The draftsman places his stamp upon the back, and notes upon its face defects, if any exist, when it is returned to the Application room, where the serial number of the application is placed on the file. Upon completion of the application in proper form the drawing and file are immediately sent for examination as to patentability to the examiner's division to which it pertains.
7. In the Examiner's room the application is registered and numbered. The registry entry includes the date of the receipt by the examiner of the application, the name of the applicant, the subject of the invention, the monthly number and, usually, an attorney's name. The register number is placed upon the file wrapper and drawing.
8. Each application is taken up for examination in the order of its receipt, excepting preferred cases specified in the statute and rules.
9. The examination relates to the sufficiency of description and the patentability of the matter claimed, and requires a critical reading of the specification and a search through descriptions of prior inventions pertaining to the same subject found in the specifications and drawings of domestic and foreign patents, and in other printed publications, or in manuscript digests of the same. Such search is more or less extended according to the complexity of the invention and the antiquity of the art to which it pertains. A single case frequently requires the inspection of many hundred drawings and extended reading, occupying several days.
10. If upon examination it appears that the matter specified is patentable, and the application in proper form, the application is passed for issue.
11. If, however, the application is rejected the Commissioner of Patents, by the Examiner, causes the applicant to be informed of the reasons of such rejection, and to be furnished with pertinent information for his guidance as to the further prosecution of the application.
12. Applicant may respond to such rejection by a request for reconsideration, with, or without amendment of his specification, and he may ask for a reconsideration as often as new references are cited. One or more rejections occur in most applications.
13. Every official communication by the Examiner in an application, and every communication from the applicant or his attorney, is placed in the file and noted on the back of the file wrapper in proper order and time, and said wrapper exhibits a complete index of the history of the case from the date of its receipt in the Office. Every official action by the Examiner is duly noted in his register adjacent to the original entry of the application, and all official letters are copied by press into a letter book.
14. Written amendments of a specification are entered as follows: Matter to be inserted is inclosed by lines on the amendment, and the place of insertion, as stated by applicant, marked on the body of the specification. Matter to be erased from the specification is inclosed by lines and canceled. Similar reference letters are placed on the amendment and on the specification at the place where it is to be entered, and said letters are indorsed on the back of the amendment. Red ink is used for distinctness.
15. The correspondence, including rejections and amendments, is continued until the application is put in condition to be passed for issue, or its further prosecution is neglected, or an appeal is taken.
16. If any one of the statutory bars to the grant of a patent (sections 4886 and 4887, Revised Statutes, Office Rules of Practice 1, 4, and 5,) or to the reissue of a patent (section 4916, Rules 64, 66, and 67,) is found to exist upon examination by the Primary Examiner, (section 4993,) and the finding is adhered to upon reexamination, (sections 4903 and 482, Rules 42, first paragraph, and 44, first paragraph,) and from an adverse decision of the Board to the Commissioner in person. (Section 4910, Rule 46.)
17. Any party to an interference, against whom an adverse finding of priority has been rendered, may appeal from the judgment of the Examiner of Interferences to the Board of Examiners-in-Chief, and from an adverse decision of the Board to the Commissioner in person. (Sections 4904, 4909 and 4910, Rules 48 and 55.)
18. Every other question or dispute, under any section of the law or rules, raised before any tribunal having cognizance of the subject-matter, i.e., before a Primary Examiner, Examiner of Trade-Marks, or of Interferences, Board of Examiners-in-Chief, or heads of divisions, is appealable, after adverse decision, directly to the Commissioner.
19. The filing of an appeal is recorded in the Application room, and the written reasons of appeal placed in a file wrapper and sent to the proper Examiner, who makes written answer to the same and sends the application and the appeal file containing reasons and answer to the clerk in charge of appeal files. After a final adjudication of the Board of Examiner-in-Chief, or by the Commissioner of Patents, or the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia upon further appeal, the application, appeal papers and decision are returned to the Examiner, who passes the application with or without amendment, or files it among rejected cases, according to the tenor of said decision, and sends the appeal file to the clerk in charge of appeal and interference records.
20. In an appeal to the Commission in an interlocutory matter no separate file is kept, but the reasons and answer are inserted in the application file.
21. When an interference is found to exist between two or more cases the applications are delayed, if practicable without injustice, until each is put in condition for issue in case it receives award of priority of invention. One application at least, claiming the interfering matter, must be in such condition.
22. Upon declaration of preliminary interference by the Examiner the several parties or their attorneys, and, in case of a patent, both the patentee and his attorney of record, and all assignees, are notified of the interference, of the names of the parties to the same and their attorneys, of the residence of both, of the interfering subject-matter, and of the claims in each case embracing such matter.
23. Copies of these are made in the letter book, and also written copies to be sent to the parties, and the proper entries are made in the register and on the file wrappers, and the files and papers sent to the Examiner of Interferences, who, in case the interference appears to him to have been declared in proper form, fixes the time of filing preliminary statements therein, and causes the copies of letters furnished him to be mailed to the appropriate parties.
24. If, however, he finds on inspection that official rules have not been complied with in the preliminary declaration by the Examiner, he returns the same for correction, in which event a new declaration by the Examiner, with letters, copies, etc., is usually necessary. Interference files are prepared by the clerk in charge, as in case of an application.
25. After decision by the Examiner of Interferences as to priority, upon evidence and argument, or after final adjudication upon appeal to the Commissioner, the files and papers are returned to the Examiner, who sends the application of the successful party to issue, unless such party is already a patentee of has neglected to properly amend his application before declaration, or unless an interference with a subsequent application occurs, or, finally, unless evidence, incidentally elicited in the interference proceeding, makes it necessary that the application be rejected for want of patentability of subject-matter.
26. In the latter event the applicant is entitled to a reconsideration and an appeal in the usual course.
27. Interference files are returned to the proper clerk, and the rejected cases are placed among rejected files.
28. Rejected cases that are not prosecuted are retained for two years in the Examiner's room, and forfeited cases that are not renewed are held eighteen months. Both are finally sent to the Draftsman's division.
29. Examined or allowed cases are kept in the Issue division until payment of the final fee, or until forfeiture. In the first case they are sent to the Drafting division and the latter to the Examiner. A record of forfeited cases is kept in the Issue division, and also of allowed cases temporarily returned to the Examiner.
30. In the renewal of forfeited cases the original file and papers are usually retained, the renewal fee and the new date being noted (from Application room) upon the original file wrapper.
31. An application having been found to possess the proper requisites is made ready for issue by the Examiner. A brief of the invention is inserted in the file. The name of the applicant, title of invention, and date of allowance are noted upon the face of the drawing, the model, if forming part of the application, is sent to the Model room and retained in secrecy until after the grant of the patent. The title is also indorsed upon the file wrapper, and the date of examination, and Examiner's signature placed upon the face of the same.
32. The file and drawing are now sent to the Issue division, where they are inspected or edited, and if errors are discovered they are returned to the Examiner for correction.
33. Immediately after the case is edited it is sent to the Drafting division, where the date of allowance is written upon the file, and the drawing is placed in the "Issue portfolios." The file is then returned to the Issue division.
34. Upon its return to the Issue division it receives the signature of the chief of the division, a circular of allowance is mailed to the proper party, and the file is pigeon-holed to await the payment of the final fee, which, when received, is noted upon the file.
35. In the Issue division the case is dated and numbered, and an entry is made on the Alphabetical Register of Patentees, which register shows a list of all patentees, alphabetically arranged, the title of the invention, the class to which it belongs, the date and number of the patent, and the name and address of the person to whom the patent is to be sent.
36. The case is next entered on the Patent Head Book, and the file is then sent to the Drafting division.
37. The drawing belonging to the case is taken from the Issue portfolios, and the prospective number of the patent is indorsed upon it. The brief is removed from the file, and the number of the patent is in like manner indorsed upon the latter.
38. The file is returned to the Issue division, where it receives an examination to insure that it is in proper condition to go forward, and is delivered by messenger to the Public Printer.
39. The specification is put in type at the Government Printing Office, and the file, with a proof of the specification, is returned to the Issue division, where it is revised and returned to the printer.
40. The file is sent to the Drafting division, where it is held until the specification (printed) is received from the Public Printer and the printed drawing from the photolithographer. (See paragraph 52.) The class to which the case belongs is noted on the list of cases previously furnished the draftsman from the Issue division, and the file and "bond copies" of specification and drawing are sent to the Issue division. (By "bond copies" is meant the copies which are printed on bond paper and bound with the patent head.)
41. There the specification and drawing, with the patent head previously received, are bound and the seal attached.
42. Here all the papers are finally compared with the Patent Head Book, and it is seen that the different parts agree and are correct.
43. The patent, being ready for the official signatures and seal, is sent to the Commissioner.
44. The patent is signed by the Secretary of the Interior and countersigned by the Commissioner of Patents, and the seal of the Office is affixed thereunto.
45. It is then placed in an envelope bearing in small letters and figures on the back the number and name corresponding to the number of the patent and name of the inventor.
46. The envelope containing the patent papers is then ready for mailing. The patent is addressed to the proper party, and the time the patent is sent out is noted on the Alphabetical Register mentioned in paragraph 35.
47. Previous to the addressing of the patent the file is compared with the register, to see if any change has been made in the address of the person to whom the patent is to be sent, and such change, if any, is properly noted. This step disposes of the patent.
48. The case is now entered on the "Classification Records," kept in the Draftsman's division, the data for this entry being taken from the file and drawings, and the file is sent to the File room, where it is retained.
49. The patent heads are made up in the Issue division from the Patent Head Book noted in paragraph 36.
50. The necessary lists for the Gazette, the draftsman, machinist, Record room, etc., are made up in the Issue division, the data being obtained from the Patent Head Book.
51. The brief taken from the file (noted in paragraph 37), is sent to the Gazette division, and there arranged for publication in that journal.
52. The drawing obtained from the Drafting division (paragraph 37) has the proper name, title and number printed upon it by the printer in the Patent Office building, and is sent to the photolithographer, who returns it with a proof sheet to the Chief Draftsman. After the proof of the drawing is passed upon and approved, it is sent back to the photolithographer, and the original drawing is held for the action indicated in paragraph 53.
53. The specification and drawings, when printed by the Public Printer and photolithographer, are delivered to the Draftsman's division.
54. The drawing having been a second time sent to the photolithographer for the production of copies, (library size,) is afterward sent to the Model room for identification of the model, which is then exposed to the public view in its appropriate case, and the drawing returned to the Drafting division to be deposited in its proper portfolio.
The following list of Commissioners of Patents, and the Secretaries under whom they served, will be found of interest:
Name Whence Date of Secretaries Appointed Commission Henry L. Ellsworth Conn July 4, 1836 *Forsyth to Buchannan Edmund Burke N.H. May 5, 1845 *Buchanan and Clayton Thomas Ewbank N.Y. May 9, 1849 Ewing to Stuart Silas H. Hodges Vt. Nov 1, 1852 Stuart Charles Mason Iowa Mar 24, 1853 McClelland & Thompson Joseph Holt Ky. Sept 9, 1857 Thompson William D. Bishop Conn May 7, 1859 Thompson Philip F. Thomas Md. Feb 15, 1860 Thompson David P. Holloway Ind. Mar 28, 1861 Smith to Harlan Thomas C. Theaker Ohio Aug 15, 1865 Harland and Browning Elisha Foote N.Y. July 28, 1868 Browning and Cox Samuel S. Fisher Ohio May 1, 1869 Cox and Delano Mortimer D. Leggett Ohio Jan 16, 1871 Delano John M. Thacher Va Nov 1, 1874 Delano R. Holland Duell N.Y. Oct 1, 1875 Chandler Ellis Spear Me. Jan 30, 1877 Chandler and Schurz Halbert E. Paine Wis. Nov 1, 1878 Schurz Edgar M. Marble Mich. May 7, 1880 Schurz to Teller Benjamin Butterworth Ohio Oct 26, 1883 Teller Martin V. Montgomery Mich Mar 21, 1885 Lamar
* Secretaries of State
The first Assistant Commissioner of Patents was Samuel A. Duncan, who was appointed July 15, 1870. He was succeeded by J.M. Thacker, and the subsequent Assistants have been Ellis Spear, W.H. Doolittle, V.D. Stockbridge, R.G. Dyrenforth, and Z.B. Vance, the present incumbent.
The present Commissioner, Mr. Montgomery, is a lawyer of ability, and to a trained legal mind adds executive capacity of a high order.
The organization of the Office includes, after the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner, the Chief Clerk, Schuyler Duryee; Law Clerk, Walter Johnson, and Private Secretary, Wm. B. Montgomery. The Board of Examiners-in-chief consists of Messrs. Rufus L.B. Clarke, Henry H. Bates and Robert J. Fisher, Jr.; and the Acting Examiner of Interferences is Mr. F.T. Brown, who is also Examiner of Division 9.
The Examining Divisions and their Chiefs are as follows:
Division 1. Agricultural Implements, O.C. Fox
Division 2. Dairy, Fences, Tobacco, Care of Stock, etc., W.H. Blodgett
Division 3. Gas, Metallurgy, Brewing and Distillation, F.P. Maclean
Division 4. Civil Engineering, B.W. Pond
Division 5. Fine Arts, Music, Photography, W. Burke
Division 6. Chemistry, T. Antisell
Division 7. Harvesters, J.A. Goldsborough
Division 8. Household Furniture, etc., O.C. Woodward
Division 9. Hydraulics, F.T. Brown
Division 10. Land Conveyances, H.P. Sanders
Division 11. Leather Working Machinery and Products, J.P. Chapman
Division 12. Mechanical Engineering, W.L. Aughinbaugh
Division 13. Metal Working, (A) J.W. Jayne
Division 14. Metal Working, (B) and Packing Vessels, S.W. Stocking
Division 15. Plastics, Oils, Fats, Glue, Sugar, etc., ------
Division 16. Electricity, (A) C.J. Kintner
Division 17. Printing, Bookbinding, and Paper Manufacture, L.M.E. Cooke
Division 18. Steam Engineering, F. Fowler
Division 19. Lamps, Stoves and Furnaces, L.B. Wynne, acting in charge
Division 20. Builders' Hardware and Surgery, A.G. Wilkinson
Division 21. Textiles, C.F. Randall
Division 22. Fire Arms, Navigation, M. Seaton
Division 23. Instruments of Precision and Trade-Marks F.A. Seely
Division 24. Sewing Machines, Apparel and Designs, P.B. Pierce
Division 25. Milling and Thrashing, Brakes and Gins, R. Mason
Division 26. Electricity, (B) G.D. Seely
Division 27. Washing, Brushing and Abrading, C.G. Could
Division 28. Pneumatics, etc. W.W. Townsend
Division 29. Wood Working, F.M. Tryon, acting, in charge
The Clerical Divisions of the Office are classified as follows:
Financial Clerk, L. Bacon
Librarian, L.D. Sale
Division A -- Chief Clerk's -- The following heads of rooms:
D.P. Cowl, in charge -- Applications
J.M. Emory, in charge -- Interference Records
R.C. Gill, in charge -- Model Halls
J. Mawdsley, in charge -- Attorneys' Rooms
----- -----, in charge -- Record Rooms
C. Hadaway, in charge -- Receipt of Models
----- -----, in charge -- Mail Room
Division B. Issue and Gazette, John W. Babson, chief -- , Notices of Allowances, Issues of Patents and Official Gazettes
Division C. Draftsman's, M. Gardner, chief -- Drawings, Printed Copies of Patents, Tracings, Rejected and Abandoned Applications, etc.
Division D. Assignment, A.J. Kelly, chief -- Assignments, Patented files, Certified and Manuscript copies.
The following is a statement of the approximate number of patents granted in some of the important classes of inventions, classified as relating to different arts, occupations and branches of industry.
Patents Apparel 2417 Crinoline and corsets 969 Jewelry 653 Toilet 362 Umbrella and fans 833 Boots and shoes 5160
In the various branches of electrical research the applications for patents now average about 250 a month.
FARM, AGRICULTURE AND TILLING
Harrows and diggers 2421 Plows 6686 Seeding and planting -- seeders and planters 3568 Gathering -- harvesters 6606 Products, field and farm -- dairy appliances 2429 Fences 2888 Mills and thrashing 6740 Presses 2708 Culture -- garden and orchard 682 Care of livestock 1232
Carding 647 Cloth finishing 268 Cordage 589 Knitting and netting 753 Silk 350 Spinning 1023 Weaving 2372
METAL WORKING MACHINES
Examiner Jayne's entire class 10204 Farriery 746 Grinding and polishing 1425 Founding 1131 Tempering, etc. 263 Tools 1662 Nut and bolt locks 734 Sheet-metal ware making 365
Air and gas engines 356 Fluid pressure regulators 398 Injectors and ejectors 240 Steam pumps 174 Steam boilers 2407 Steam engines 5111 Steam boiler furnaces 2333 Steam valves 1533 Steam water elevators 46
Coating with metal 244 Metallurgy 2418
Railways 3504 Railway cars 6505
Chemical and mechanical treatment of hides, skins and leather 1219
Bridges 694 Excavating 1143 Hydraulic engineering 622 Masonry 544 Roofing 508 Fire escapes 884 Artesian and oil wells 500
HOUSEHOLD -- THE HOUSE
Bread and cracker machines 440 Chairs 1585 Furniture 1943 Laundry 4993 Beds 2153 Household articles 1589 Curtain fixtures 913 Vegetable cutters and crushers 405
HYDRAULICS AND PNEUMATICS
Baths and closets 1207 Fire engines 567 Hydraulic motors 1456 Pneumatics 2742 Pumps 3156 Water distribution 3769
Driers 1342 Lamps and gas fitting 5254 Stoves and Furnaces 8238
This gives some idea of the amount of work that is performed in the various divisions; and, when it is remembered that each application for a patent undergoes a most rigid examination, first to see if the claim represents a patentable invention, then if the claims are properly stated, and finally, if it does not infringe or interfere with any former invention or pending application, the necessity of securing the best class of men for Examiners is fully apparent.
The great work of the Patent Office, its value upon the country, and the increasing breadth and scope of its operations cannot be better stated than was done by Senator Platt, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Patents, from which quotation has already been made. He said:
We protect all our personal property by patents; we lock it up with patented locks, and if anybody breaks through and steals our treasures we overtake the thief by a patented telegraph. We defend our national honor by patents. We heard only yesterday that an unfortunate riot occurred in one of our principal cities. It was the telegraph which summoned the troops of the State to Cincinnati; it was that subtle force, so intangible, impalpable, invisible that we scarcely know whether it is material or spiritual, which the inventive genius of man has harnessed to do his business, which at an instant's time summoned soldiers from all sections of Ohio to the defense of Cincinnati.
Take another instance: Many believe, I fully believe, that Ericsson, a foreigner, but I think an American citizen, by a single invention changed the whole theory of naval architecture, the naval warfare of the world, and prevented this country from dismemberment and disunion. That single invention, originating in the brain of a humble individual, whose invention was not favored by the Government, and who was never, to my knowledge, compensated by the Government, changed the history of the whole world. Consider this one instance of the effect of patents, and tell me what is the value of patented inventions, and what have they added to the value of property in this country?
A distinguished member of the army told me within a short time that the only reliance of this country in case of war was upon the inventive genius of its people, that it had no navy, that it had no sufficient army, that it could only defend itself by a special exercise of the inventive faculty of its citizens in calling into immediate use and power new implements of warfare.
Is this vast system of property worth protecting? Does not the patent system attain a dignity which entitles it to fair and generous treatment? Is it not large enough to be independent.
I have heard it said that we should have all these inventions anyway; that men would have invented without regard to the encouragement which was given them by our patent laws; that if this exclusive use of their inventions had not been secured to them for a term of years; that if their property in patents were not protected, yet they would have gone on and will go on inventing all the same; that there has been in some way a marvelous birth in this country of inventive capacity, and that it must grow whether it is protected or not.
Mr. President, it is not true. The inventor is no more a philanthropist than is the agriculturist. He works for his support. He works to achieve a competency. He invents, if you please, to become rich, but he is no more a philanthropist than any other man in any other walk or avocation of life, and you have no right to demand of him that he shall be a mere philanthropist. He is entitled to his reward. He is a laborer entitled to his hire, entitled to it more, if possible, than any other laborer, as his labor is higher in dignity and grandeur than that of any other laborer. I wish on this point to call attention to the testimony of Sir Henry Bessemer as I find it on page 103 of a work called Creators of the Age of Steel. I ask the Secretary to read it.
The Chief Clerk read as follows:
The year 1866 may be said to mark a turning point in the inventive work of Sir Henry Bessemer. In each of the previous thirty years he had designed at least one invention, and in some years as many as ten. 1866 was the first year since 1838 in which no new patent was taken out by him. His greatest invention, the Bessemer process, was now bringing him in an income of �100,000 a year, and when 1866 showed a blank in his record of inventions it might reasonably be assumed that henceforth he would rest from his labors. But next year his name again appeared in the list of new patentees, and he continued to take out patents for new inventions without interruption for the next ten years. Yet the period of his greatest activity was the eventful years which he devoted to perfecting his process of steel making. Having satisfied himself that the principle of that process was sound and practicable he took out a fresh patent for each new improvement or substantial alteration in order to secure his rights intact. Thus he took out fourteen patents in 1855, ten in 1856 and six in 1857, making thirty patents within three years, not to mention his numerous foreign ones.
Mr. PLATT. The universal testimony of all inventors is that it is the reward which they hope to secure which stimulates their efforts. Is it so that an inventor, of all the men in the world, has no right to his reward? Is it the security to an inventor of his invention which makes it valuable, and which stimulates him in his effort to make new inventions.
I have heard it argued that we had appropriated the perfection of the patent system; that there were no new worlds to conquer; that nature had no more secrets to bestow upon mankind for their benefit. So far from this being the case, we stand but in the very vestibule of the great storehouse of nature's secrets. We have but gathered a few pebbles along the shore on which beats a limitless sea. There is no limit to the evolution of human invention until it reaches the realm of the infinite. It requires no prophet's vision to see the coming glory and the coming triumph of the inventive skill of man.
Take but an instance or two of what is outlined on the horizon of the near future -- the transmission and adaptation of electrical force, the combustion of water or its constituent elements, the application of compressed air. The whole inventive world is stirred today, stimulated to find some new motive power. I saw in this city within a day or two a six-horse power engine which had been running for a month ten hours a day, driving the machinery in a machine shop, the only agent for the driving of which was a little jet of illuminating gas scarcely larger than that which we burn in a single burner, introduced into a cylinder in connection with common air. It has been run here in the city of Washington, where gas is $1.75 a thousand feet, at a very much less cost than the cost of a steam engine of equal power; and I am told that in one of the cities of Massachusetts more than five hundred of these gas engines are in operation, where the gas is supplied at about 50 cents per thousand feet. I am not certain about the fact, but I am so informed. Certain it is that cheaper motors are to be discovered; certain it is that we have not begun to discover the secrets of electrical force; we live in a wonder-land. The miracle of yesterday is the commonplace of today. The dream of the present is to be the fact of the immediate future.
No, Mr. President, every round of the ladder on which we have climbed to national pre-eminence is a patented invention, and every sign board which points to a greater future of achievement and progress shows that the path continues to lead through the field of invention. We are nearing the end of the contest to which our fathers invited us when they gave to our Government the power to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries. That contest was for the supremacy of the world, and the prize is now in full view. Shall we forget, shall we neglect the system which has enabled us to outstrip our competitors in the race, or shall we the rather perfect and develop it, that through its perfection and development we may attain still grander results? We stand today in the gateway of a most marvelous future. Let us hope that eyes may be given us to see that the inscription over the gate reads "Protection to the American patent system and all that it comprehends and involves."
Mr. President, I leave this branch of my subject. I have but suggested where I would have desire to elaborate. It is as fascinating as an oriental romance, a fairy tale, and the temptation to enlarge is very great, but there are some more practical considerations which I must present in support of this bill.
I say that the Patent Office should be made an independent Department, not only because of the vast importance of the interests which it must care for, but because of the treatment which it has received and must continue to receive so long as it remains a subordinate branch of the Interior Department.
The rapid increase of work in the Office was stated by Commissioner Marble in the following terse and vigorous manner, and he also presented the claims of the Office to the consideration of Congress in demanding additional room in which to transact its business, and an increase of force to keep pace with the increasing amount of work. Mr. Marble said:
There has been a remarkable increase of inventive activity during the last few years, which brings a corresponding increase of work to the Patent Office, and makes the labor more arduous.
Owing to the progress of the country, the great increase in population and wealth, the widespread rise and growth of new industries, more weighty interests, both of inventor and of manufacturer, are now at stake, and these are in a great measure dependent upon the thoroughness and accuracy of the work of the Patent Office.
In pursuing their labors the examining corps of the Patent Office must not only compare pending applications with each other, adjudicating between them where they conflict, but they must compare each application for a patent, for a design patent, or for the registration of a trade-mark or label, with the patents and publications that have gone before, and apply all the tests of patentability established by law and by decisions founded in a long course of experience, the doctrines of combination, of aggregation, of mechanical skill, double use, new application, etc., as to the relations which these bear individually or in the aggregate upon the application or case under consideration.
Knowledge, judgment, skill, experience, and industry are indispensable requisites.
But with all human knowledge, with all human judgment, skill, and experience, with all human industry and perseverance, human capacity is limited.
The increase in the field to be explored causes more than a direct ratio of increase in the labor to be performed. The increase rather resembles the rule of geometrical progression.
The yearly number of applications now to be examined, including caveats, trade-marks, and labels, is more than 39,000, nearly 40,000; and with amendments, arguments, appeals, interferences, and the various interlocutory questions raised by the able lawyers who have engaged in patent practice as a specialty, the labor and correspondence in the course of the examination of applications for patents, etc., is immense.
In 1848, when the grade of examiner was established, the total number of American patents was not over 6,000, and of English patents only about 12,000. These with such publications as were accessible at that time, there being only one alcove of books, about 1,000 volumes in the scientific library, constituted substantially the whole field over which search had to be made for anticipation of any alleged new device.
At the present day the number of American patents is nearly 360,000, and that of the English patents over 140,000.
As late as 1879 the number of English patents was only about 110,000.
The number of French patents published was only about 100,000.
The number of German patents was only 4,390.
The number of Belgian patents was about 47,000.
The number of books in the scientific library for consultation, including periodicals, etc., was not more than 29,000.
Now let his be compared with the present field:
As already said, the number of American patents alone is now nearly 360,000, and the increase per year is at the rate of about 21,000.
The Patent Office, it must be borne in mind, is more than self-supporting. It has earned, over and above its expenses, nearly three millions of dollars, and this amount represents but a very minute part of the sum it has placed to the credit of the wealth of the country. This sketch of its operations might be extended indefinitely, for the history of the Patent Office is a correlative record of the material progress of the land. The salient features of his history have, however, been touched upon, and enough has been said to show its high importance as a branch of the Government which, instead of being a burden, is a source of great profit. Its future possibilities are beyond comprehension. Already it has developed to such an extent that for its own convenience and for the benefit of other people it should be considered a distinctive department, and not a mere bureau.
Inventors and manufacturers, who are the most directly and intimately interested in the operations of the Patent Office, should unite in a demand upon Congress that the Commissioner of Patents be made a Cabinet officer, and the spacious building which was erected for the uses of the Patent Office, but which is now mainly occupied by the Interior Department, be turned over to its custody. Then, with a force commensurate with the necessities of the increasing work, and with salaries proportionate to the importance of the duties required, the Patent Office would be second in importance to none of the Departments of the National Government.