Extracts from American Polytechnic Journal concerning Patent Office
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal
Vol 1, January - June 1853, page 25-27
The Patent Office
We propose, under this caption, to consider the Patent Office in all its relations; to furnish a full and particular account of the method of conducting business in the office, and to advert historically to whatever, in our judgment, will be interesting to our readers. We shall also have occasion to comment upon some of the defects of the existing laws; and upon one topic we shall be free to dilate, enabled as we are to speak ex cathedra from our long official experience in the Patent Office. This topic relates to the principles upon which the patent laws are administered in the Patent Office.
Our present patent law is a good law in the main, but is not without its defects. It is highly creditable to its framers, exhibiting learning, wisdom and forecast; and for a number of years worked admirably well. Laws grow out of necessities, and all laws should be reformed, or made to conform to the necessities of the times. Undue veneration for law, because it is law, is a hindrance to progress; and a slavish adherence to dogmas, is a spirit unworthy of the age. We would not "remove the ancient landmarks," but we would change, whenever we can for the better, the face of all things within their boundaries. With proper respect for all existing laws, we must have respect unto existing and future necessities. The necessity must be clear, before the attempt to repeal, modify, or add, and great caution and deliberation exercised in the adoption of new laws. Especially in patents laws should our legislators look well to the quarter from which amendments emanate, lest alleged individual or local wrongs should outweigh the general weal. Patent laws were the offspring of odious monopolies, but are now, under various forms, recognized by all enlightened nations as expedient and equitable. Like all human codes, they oppress somewhere, but nevertheless are not injurious, since in granting a monopoly for a limited time to inventors, they give to others more than they take away. It was first satisfactorily established by Renouard, a distinguished writer on Patent Law, that an inventor has no "natural right" to the "exclusive use of his invention, independently of the positive law;" and as Mr. Phillips remarks, "there is no ground whatever on which to rest such a right, since the fact of one person being the first inventor or discoverer, affords no pretense for disfranchising others of the right in their turn of making and using the same discovery." Nevertheless, as before remarked, it has been found expedient and equitable to grant to the first inventor an exclusive privilege for a limited time. Lord Eldon said that the "patentee was a purchaser from the public, being bound to communicate his secret to the public at the expiration of his patent." But the most approved modern legislation does not so interpret the patent privilege, and a secret with the patentee is fatal to his patent and injurious to the public.
With these brief premises, we shall not deem it presumptive to advert to some of the obvious defects in our present code of patent laws; and first we notice a most serious defect in our system in not providing for the publication of patents. While connected with the Patent Office in the capacity of chief examiner, at the request of the commissioner of patents, we reported to him upon this subject as follows. The publication of the specifications and drawings of patented inventions has for many years been practiced in England, France, and most of the European states, as a part of the general system, legalized for the encouragement of useful arts and the protection of inventors. In England the publication is conducted by private enterprise, and constitutes one of the most valuable records of science and art in our language, and a standard and constant work of reference in the United States Patent Office. From the etymology of the term, Letters-patent are letters which lie open; and in law, the grant of the same is equivalent to publication; but in effect is hardly so, as the archives of public offices are difficult of access, and the parchment in the hands of its possessor is generally a sealed document to the world. The insertion, therefore, of suitable descriptions and illustrations, in some public journal, is necessary to apprise the public of the progress of inventions, to prevent infringements through ignorance or mistake, to avoid occasions for contests upon priority of invention, and to save the inventors the trouble of wasting their energies upon what has already been secured to another. It also stimulates improvement, and awakens commendable emulation.
Not anticipating in any manner our connection with a public journal, nor the publication of patents by ourselves, we also at that time -- three years since -- reported to the commissioner, as our opinion, that the publication could be best effected by private enterprise, and at a great saving to the government.
The necessity of some publication of patents has long been felt in this country, and has been urged upon Congress by Commissioner Ellsworth, Burke, and Ewbank, by the Secretary of the Interior, and by President Fillmore in his recent message. The editors of this journal, nearly five months in advance of the recommendation from the president, issued their prospectus, in which they promised to undertake this laborious, responsible, and expensive work, at their own risk. From their long experience and service in the Patent Office, and a wish to supply the public with the long-desired information, they felt themselves fully and peculiarly competent and prepared for the task; and a willingness to incur the expense with but little hope for the present of remuneration. The publication of patents by private enterprise in England is in favor with the government, and a great saving of public expense. There will be one manifest difference between our reports upon patents and the English. Their laws admit into a specification for one patent a number of distinct inventions, and frequently the most incongruous materials and devices are described, and claimed under one patent. Hence a digest of such patents cannot serve as a record without a notice of them all. Under our law and the regulation of the Patent Office, "prolixity" is not allowed in the specification, and the digest will be accordingly concise and to the purpose, and the explanation of the claim will generally be sufficient. The importance of the work has too often been dwelt upon, and is too obvious for further comment, and we have but little doubt of its acceptability to inventors, patentees, and all interested in the progress of inventions.
THE UNWRITTEN RULES OF THE PATENT OFFICE, --
an evil, frequently as much felt within the Patent Office as by those without. The Patent Office prints a large number of "Circulars of Information," as they are called, for the benefit of patentees, inventors, and others, and those are distributed gratis. These circulars contain the rules and business regulations of the office -- which are all presumed to be founded in law -- and instructions, general and particular, to persons transacting business with the Patent Office. This is commendable in intention, but in many respects unfortunate. The mere fact of this publication warrants the conclusion that as a guide it is all-sufficient, that it contains at least all the important regulations or practice of the office; in fine, everything of management not purely discretional. Trusting in such conclusion, persons are often mortified and disappointed upon meeting obstructions in the office which they could not have anticipated. Hardly a week passes in which questions of practice do not arise in the Patent Office among the examiners and others, which are settled according to the memories solely of the older employees. Technical and professional knowledge is of all kinds the most fugacious, and the Patent Office has been often awkwardly placed, in consequence of either certain memories, conflicting precedents, or the absence of its older officers. Every conclusion upon a mooted point is of importance as a precedent; and if some regular system of commitment to paper of these important points, as they occur, should be adopted, the office and the public would be mutually guarded against error and uncertainty. As it is, many and very important rules of the Patent Office are unwritten, although there are more written rules than are wholesome or necessary.
C.G.P., Ed. [Charles G. Page, M.D., co-editor]
(to be continued)
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal
Vol 1, January - June 1853, page 29-35
The Progress of Legislation upon Exclusive Privileges
We propose to give in a series of articles a sketch of the progress of legislation upon exclusive privileges, so far as it relates to the protection of useful inventions,showing the source from which has sprung much of the prejudice of modern times against those rights; and most of the difficulties, as it seems to us, in the way of correct legislation upon the subject of protection to improvers and inventors of useful arts.
In the present article we shall trace the monopolies down to the time they were found in company with Patented rights, and the odious guilds which so long impeded the progress of the useful arts.
From the earliest recognition of the right to possess personal property, especially by the masses, monopolies have been watched with jealous eyes; and although much confusion has arisen in defining the limit where a just and equitable right terminated, and monopoly, odious in its character, because unjust, commenced; a distinction between these two classes of property was discovered and admitted at a very early day.
The early Greeks, from whom we derive the term monopolia, applied it to those who purchased the whole of a commodity, so as to hold it at an exorbitant price, and thus extort from the consumer: a forestalling; it literally signifies a single or sole selling. It was used by Aristotle; and Zeno, in his constitutions, declares that no one shall exercise a monopoly in clothing, fish, or any other thing adapted to the uses of man; he also forbids all combinations among dealers to raise the price of any commodity, under penalty of perpetual exile to the offender, and confiscation of his goods.
The grant of monopolies has generally been considered the prerogative of sovereign power, and was exercised more or less without definite limit in England, down to the time of James I. There had been many early struggles against this infraction of common right; and in some cases an English parliament was found with sufficient temerity to annul the sovereign act; a notable instance of which occurred in the tenth year of reign of Edward III, when one John Peach was arraigned at the bar of parliament, for having obtained of the king a monopoly of sweet wines. The patent was adjudged void, and was canceled before his face in open parliament, for the reason that he exacted three shillings and four pence a tun on importations, and he was himself adjudged to prison until he made restitution of all he had thus received, and had paid a fine of £500 to the King. Whatever we may think of the reasons for canceling this patent, or the fine to the king, the grantor, who generally contrived to take advantage of every act of his own, right or wrong, to extort money from his loving subjects, the lesson was a salutary one, and established a precedent never after forgotten: a triumph of right over prerogative.
During the reign of Elizabeth, that strong-willed woman contrived to control the sturdy Commons, and in spite of all the grumbling and threatened storm, the abusive grant of monopolies by the crown arose to its greatest height, and became intolerable: almost every species of trade was shackled with these unnatural restrictions; and at last the wily old Queen was forced to promise a reform, which promise, it is needless to say, she did not keep, and never intended to: it was done to stifle a troublesome investigation, and effected its object. The truth of the Queen, although it could not be questioned, was never believed. At almost every parliament the unsuccessful battle against monopoly patents was renewed; at the opening of the parliament of 1601, the Queen told the Speaker that it would be a short parliament, and she "willed that the members should not spend the time in frivolous, vain, and unnecessary motions and arguments;" but notwithstanding this gentle hint, a debate soon broke out upon the vain subject of suppressing monopolies; it was commenced by Mr. Lawrence Hyde, a bold reformer, who set forth the especial grievances under which his townsfolk suffered. To a remark of the Solicitor-General, that he had had orders from her majesty, last Hilary term, to take order for these patents, Sir R. Wroth replied, "I will but note, you were charged, in last Hilary term, why not before? there was time enough ever since last parliament [four years]. I speak it, and I speak it boldly, these patents are worse than they ever were. There have been divers patents for currants, iron, powder, cards, ox-shin-bones, trayn oil, transportation of leather, lists of cloth, ashes, anniseeds, vinegar, sea-coals, steel, aquavitae, brushes, pots, saltpetre, lead, accidences, oyle, calumin, stone, oyl of blubber, fumathoes, or dried pilchards in the smoke, and others." On naming which, Mr. Hackwell, of Lincoln's Inn, asked, "Is not bread there?" "Bread!" said one. "Bread!" said a second. "This voice seems strange," said a third. "No," said Mr. Hackwell, "if order be not taken for these now, bread will be there before the next parliament." This was indeed startling, and fear reached even the throne, producing a reaction which generated the gross, fulsome, and superlative thanks the Queen received on the occasion, which vividly shows the relative position of the Queen and her trusty Commons. The promise often before refused, and now made, fully granting their desires of reforming abuses which had grown so rank, that there was danger of an open rupture, was thus received by the House.
The Speaker, Croke, said, "My heart is not able to conceive, nor my tongue to utter the joy I conceived of her majesty's gracious and especial care for our good. Wherefore, as God himself said, 'gloriam meam alteri non dabo,' so may her majesty say, in that she herself will be her only and speedy agent for performance of our humble and most wished for desires. Wherefore, let us not doubt, but as she hath been, so will she still be, our most gracious sovereign and natural nursing mother unto us, whose days the Almighty God prolong to all our comforts.
To this the House responded Amen.
On the following day, says the chronicler, the Speaker, Croke, accompanied by some seven score members of the parliament, proceeded to audience of her majesty, who received them in the council-chamber at Whitehall. After three low reverences, the Speaker said, "Most sacred and most gracious sovereign, your faithful, loyal, and obedient subjects and commons here present, vouchsafe of your especial goodness to our unspeakable comfort access to your sacred presence, do in all duty and humbleness come to present that which no words can express, most humble and thankful acknowledgement of your most gracious messages, and most bounded and humble thanks for your Majesty's most abundant goodness extended and performed to us. * * * * That attribute which is most proper unto God, to perform all he promiseth, appertaineth also unto you, our most gracious sovereign, queen of all truth, of all constancy, of all goodness, never wearied in doing good unto us, the deeds themselves do speak, and even now your most gracious published proclamation, of your own only mere notion and special grace, for the good of all your people, doth witness unto us. In all duty and thankfulness, prostrate at your feet, we present our most loyal and thankful hearts, even the last drop of blood in our hearts, and the last spirit of breath in our nostrils to be poured out, to be breathed up for your safety." Much more of this fulsome adulation was breathed out by this most grave and dignified speaker. Who could expect, after thus giving up all the rights of a man, and prostituting the high office with which he was entrusted to such purposes, that either he or the abject parliament that sent him could discern or protect the rights of the poor artisan, or weed out the monopolies with which his rights were choked and caused to be doubted?
At the termination of this speech the sycophant made three low reverences, and then knelt down; and the members who formed his train imitated his posture, in which position they remained till the Queen had given them a somewhat lengthy specimen of self-laudation; when probably noticing some manifestations of uneasiness in her auditors, she said, "Mister Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand up, for I shall yet trouble you with a longer speech." At which these seven score and one English gentlemen ventured to stand up, as bid, while her majesty deigned to lecture them: thus ended this farce, in which it would be difficult to determine who was the greater hypocrite. It is quite evident, however, that the Commons had no true and just idea of what exact justice was in the grant of letters-patent; for on a proposition at this same parliament to pass a bill that every one who could invent any art or trade, which was good and profitable to the commonwealth, should monopolize the same, during his life; it was objected, not that the time was too long; but, as was remarked by the member from London, "Many arts had been devised in London to do that by one man, which would not heretofore be done with forty, which was unprofitable, because it did not set the poor in great numbers to work" -- a fallacy that is not wholly out of fashion at the present day, but which we hope to expose in the course of these remarks, and which was then correctly rebutted by another member, who observed, "It is reason that he that hath invented any art or trade, should have some privilege, because it would be an encouragement to others, nemo nascitur artifex. It did not hold in arts that it is unprofitable that the work of many should be done by one, for it is profitable for the commonwealth that water should be brought to every man's house at ten shillings cost, as by the water-work device in London, when it could not be done formerly at 10£ cost." This would seem to be argumentum ad hominum to the London member; but owing to the lively and just fear of the House that the bad companions of these equitable rights would again spring up, the bill was rejected.
To show the heterogeneous character of patents granted at that time, we will name a few, beginning with 1575: Patent to Tallis and Bird, to print their musical Cantiones. 1588, Patent to R. Hexton, to make flaskes, locke boxes, powder boxes and bullet boxes for fifteen years; Patent to Sir Walter Raleigh, to grant licenses for keeping taverns; Patent to Sir Walter Raleigh, to dig for tin in Cornwall. 1589, Patent to John Ashley and Thomas Windebank, to have the benefit of forfeitures and fines for burning timber-trees, contrary to statute. This was one of a very curious class of patents: it enabled the iron-masters in the country about London to smelt iron, of which privilege they were deprived by a miserable statute of control, by compounding for the penalties of cutting wood imposed by said statute. 1591, Patent to receive fees for filing bills in Chancery. 1595, Patent to receive penalties for gashing of hydes and barking of trees. 1596, "Patent to trade to the Levant, for currants only, for which he was to pay 4000 pounds per annum," to W. Mercer. 1596, Patent to License gaming houses, to T. Cornwallis. 1598, Patent to import and make cards, to E. Darcy; this patent was subsequently litigated, and elicited from the counsel, Mr. Fuller, a bold and courageous speech, and a clear exposition of his ideas of the limit of the sovereign's right to grant patents; it is in strong contrast to Mr. Speaker Croke, before quoted. Fuller says: "Commonwealths were not made for kings, but kings for commonwealths; and the law, the inheritance of all, binds both the queen and subject. If law were not, there would neither be king nor inheritance, and to outrun the law is to let in confusion. The Queen, by her patent, cannot do wrong, and her prerogative is no warrant to injure the subject. Letters-patent were void if they tended to change the law, or hurt any man's inheritance, or granted any thing contra commune jus, or what tended to any general charge of the subject.
"By the law of God, every man should live by his labor, and therefore, were an act of parliament to prohibit any man from living by the labor to which he was brought up, it would be void by the law of God; and much more, letters-patent.
"Arts and skill of manual occupation, rise not from the Queen, but from the labor and industry of men, and by the gift of God to them, tending to the good of the commonwealth, and to the king; and it is a good part of a king, says Bracton, to reject no person, but to make every one profitable to the commonwealth.
"The Queen, by her prerogative, cannot take twelve pence from a subject, even to carry on her war, without an act, or grant any one's land or goods; neither can she grant twelve pence gotten by any trade, and why, therefore, grant away the trade? If partial affection by private discretion do govern public affairs, then one man's will becometh every one's misery.
Before this, if any person by his industry had obtained excellent skill in his trade, he might have reaped the fruits of it, and that hath been thought the surest thing, to obtain skill and knowledge, because thieves could not steal lit; but Darcy hath devised a means to take a man's skill from him, which was never heard of before, and which, if others should do the like in other trades, it would discourage men to labor to be skilful in any useful art, and bring in barbarism and confusion. Before the grant, if any naughty and false cards were made, one might buy of others better cards; then there were many makers and many sellers; by Darcy's patent, be they good, cheap, or be they dear, you must buy all of him, or of his agents, in what manner it pleased him."
Fuller concluded by giving a description of the patent that he considered the crown might grant according to the law of the land. "I will show you how the judges have heretofore allowed of monopoly patents, which is, that where any man of his own charge and industry, and by his own cost and invention, doth bring any new trade into the realm, or any engine tending to the furtherance of a trade, that never was used before, and that for the good of the realm, that in that case the king may grant unto him a monopoly patent for some reasonable time, until the subject may learn the same, in consideration of the good that he doth bring by his invention to the commonwealth, otherwise not."
This last paragraph is a very fair exposition of objects that are the legitimate subjects for the grant of letters-patent. The powers claimed by Fuller for the judges, is much more questionable, but judicial opinions were then just entering their transition state with regard to patents. The just and equitable rights of inventors were confusedly commingled with grants of an absurd and most pernicious character. The improvement of the arts was a second matter with the government, while the filing of its coffers, regardless of justice, was a primary one; and in effecting this, it was rare to look beyond the present contingency, either for the good of the subject, or its own. What wonder, then, that the very name of patent was odious and even the most worthy in the race of improvement partook of the odium; but the curse of bad association was not all the inventor and improver of the useful arts had to contend with in struggling for his rights; the guilds and parliamentary enactments were enemies even more grievous in England, while in France and Germany the genius of improvement was absolutely prostrate under the tyranny of corporations; the history of these barriers to the expansion of man's creative intellect, served as armor for dull mediocrity to ride rough-shod over expiring genius; no man could exercise any handicraft without belonging to the corporation to which it pertained; and he was then bound by legislative acts, or corporation regulations, that were effectual bars to all improvement: and should an unlucky wight have conceived an improvement that involved the callings of two or more trades, as before conducted, woe be to him if he attempted to put it in practice. The masters and wardens, or other officers of the corporation, were much to worshipful to let the irreverence for their mysteries pass without peril and penalty to the offender.
In France penal statutes were enacted regulating the processes in every manufacture and trade. These regulations were sometimes dictated by wicked design, and sometimes by gross ignorance. Legislators or government officers fancied they could better and more understandingly direct and control the proper mode of smelting iron, working and compounding of metals; that they could better throw, twist, or spin silk, wool, and cotton; that their receipts for dying were infallible; their chemical compounds no quackery, and far above improvement. Perpigna says, "To insure a compliance with such absurd regulations, inquisitorial measures were resorted to; the residence of manufacturers entered by force; their establishments searched and explored, and their mode of working inquired into. Thus their most secret methods were often discovered and pirated by fraudulent competitors. The excesses committed under these tyrannical statutes were such, that one can scarcely conceive how any nation could so long submit to them."
The worthy Roland de la Platiere, who was a minister during some part of the French revolution, and put an end to his life, in the reign of terror, gives a deplorable account of the numerous acts of oppression he had witnessed. "I have seen," says he, "eighty, ninety, even a hundred, pieces of cotton or woolen stuffs cut up and completely destroyed. I have witnessed similar scenes every week, for a great number of years; I have seen manufactured goods confiscated, heavy fines laid on manufacturers: some pieces of fabric were burnt in public places, and at the hours of market; others were fixed to the pillory, with the name of the manufacturer inscribed upon them, and he himself was threatened with the pillory, in case of a second offense. All this was done under my eyes, at Rouen, in conformity with existing regulations, or ministerial orders. What crime deserved so cruel a punishment? Some defect in the materials employed, or in the texture of the fabric, or even in some of the threads of the warp.
"I have frequently seen," continues Roland, "manufacturers visited by a band of satellites, who put all in confusion in their establishments, spread terror in their families, cut the stuffs from the frames, tore off the warp from the looms, and carried them away as proofs of infringements; the manufacturers were summoned, tried, condemned; their goods confiscated; copies of their judgment of condemnation posted up in every public place; fortune, reputation, and credit, all was lost and destroyed. And for what offense? Because they had made with worsted a kind of cloth called shag, such as the English used to manufacture, and even to sell in France, while the French regulations stated, that that kind of cloth should be made with mohair. I have seen other manufacturers treated the same way, because they had made camlets of a particular width, used in England and Germany, for which there was a great demand from Spain, Portugal, and other countries, and from several parts of France, while the French regulations prescribed other widths for camlets.
"There was no free town where mechanical inventors could find a refuge against the tyranny of the monopolists. No trade but what was clearly and explicitly described by the statutes, could be exercised; none but what was included in the privileges of some corporation.
"No one could improve on a method, or deviate from the prescribed rules for manufacturing stuffs of cotton, worsted, or silk without running the risk of being heavily fined, having his frames destroyed, and his manufactured goods burnt in the public place, by the hands of the executioner. Many inventors were forbidden to reduce their inventions to practice, when their application for letters-patent was not supported by powerful recommendations, or when they were unable to bid a high price for the good-will of the clerks of office.
"A company of merchants, of Nantes and Rennes, wished to form on a new plan manufactories of woolen, silk and cotton goods. They possessed new preparations for fixing the colors. As soon as the establishment was fitted up, the corporation of serge-makers contested their right of manufacturing woolen stuffs, and the corporation of dyers claimed the privilege of dyeing for them. Law proceedings, carried on for several years, absorbed the capital raised for the purpose of forming a useful establishment, and when at last a favorable decision was obtained, all the resources of the manufacturers were exhausted; thus the serge-makers and dyers succeeded in ruining dangerous competitors, by an oppressive united monopoly and combination.
"Lenoir, who carried to such high perfection the art of manufacturing mathematical and philosophical instruments, wanted a little furnace to prepare metals. He built one, but the wardens of the corporation of iron-founders came and demolished it themselves, because he was not a member of their community. After several vain attempts to re-establish it, he was obliged to solicit an authorization from the king, which was granted to him by special favor.
"When Argand had invented his lamps with a double currant of atmospheric air, he had to sustain lawsuits brought against him by the community of tinmen, locksmiths, and blacksmiths, who opposed the recording of the privileged granted to him by the king, because the statutes reserved to the members of that community the exclusive right of making lamps; and Argand had not been received a member.
These tyrannies of themselves were sufficient causes to produce the bloody revolution which followed, in which all special privileges were abolished, that by their unnatural attempts to artificially shackle man in his spontaneous industrial efforts for his own well-being, created a vastly greater confusion, and more misery, although perhaps less apparent than the chaos which they preceded, that in one day swept off all the old monopolies. We could continue this dark picture through German trade-associations, and imperial enactments even more contracted and dogmatical, but the preceding sketch is sufficient to show through what perils and odium has advancing science in its application to the useful arts travelled: such is the dark picture of the progress of improvement, but a better day is dawning; the judges have aroused themselves to a sense of the importance of inventions, and in their desire to thoroughly protect, they may, in some instances, have exceeded the bounds of strict justice, in their construction of the law, for the benefit of the patentee. On this subject the law should be clear and well defined, or litigation will continue to increase, as it has done for many years past. Modern legislators should heed this, in reviewing the present patchwork of laws relating to the useful arts, generally misentitled, for their encouragement.
J.J.G., Ed. [J.J. Greenough, co-editor]
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal
Vol 1, January - June 1853, page 119-120
Some of the Written Rules of the Patent Office
The rules of the Patent Office relating to patent agents are covert personalities, entirely unbecoming the dignity of public office. If a patent agent should defraud or "impose upon an inventor," the Patent Office is not the mediator or apologist, though its published circular places it in this attitude. In such cases redress is at law or between the parties. The office has undoubtedly the right to adopt rules for the transactions of business with all persons, and to enforce such rules to the exclusion of any one who seeks to annoy, evade, or refuses compliance. The fact is too well established to be advocated or denied that competent patent agents are useful and important to inventors and the Patent Office, and they are an indispensable part of the patent system in every country where patent laws are granted. There may be dishonest men among them, but it is unjust on that account to malign them as a body. Formerly there were patent agents in Washington who kept "stool pigeons" about the porch and vestibule of the Patent Office, but this system was broken up by the energy of Commissioner Burke. The parade of integrity, impartiality, and incorruptibility of the Patent Office, which accompanies the written rules for patent agents, is in bad taste, to say the least. We cite two passages: "Patents are granted or rejected upon the merits of the cases presented, and there are no circumstances which can, with the knowledge of the undersigned, be brought to bear, to turn the office from the strictest impartiality."
Again: "It is hardly necessary to state that no fees are received in this office, except those provided by law, and that no offers of sums of money, or payment of the same to third parties, can influence the decision upon a case, or hasten the period of its examination." From an experience of ten years in the Patent Office, we can testify to the general probity and ability of its officers, but while there, we were constantly mortified at the above and other seeming attempts to foreclose doubts and forestall public opinion by such ostentation or the moral purity of the Patent Office.
It is very remarkable that the same circular of information which so attempts to disparage patent agents, and dissuade inventors from seeking their assistance, contains also some remarks recommending inventors to employ patent agents. Thus in one place it holds the following language, viz:
"To relieve applicants from the expense of employing agents, the examiners will decide questions of novelty and patentability upon papers imperfectly prepared, if sufficiently perspicuous to be understood, when such papers are prepared by the inventor himself. But if an agent be employed, it is presumed that he is qualified for the business he has undertaken without calling on the office for instructions.
"Inventors desirous of examining models before making application, should apply to the Commissioner or chief clerk, who will direct the machinist to aid them in all necessary inquiries. This caution is given to save applicants from impositions to which they are exposed. If the services of patent agents are desired, able and faithful ones can be found at their offices in this and other cities."
And then again: "The Patent Office does not make original drawings to accompany applications for patent. It furnishes copies of the same only after the patent is completed. Draughtsmen in the city of Washington are always ready to make drawings at the expense of the patentees."
And again: "The personal attendance of an applicant at the Patent Office is unnecessary. The business can be done by correspondence or by attorney. All explanations and suggestions in relation to pending,and to all other cases, should be in writing, addressed to the Commissioner; correspondence with the examiners or other subordinates is strictly prohibited. When an application has been finally decided, the office will retain the original papers, allowing the applicant to obtain copies thereof."
And lastly, in a spirit of partiality and unwarrantable discrimination, it declares: "An examination, as to originality of invention, may be made on a single drawings, when no agent is employed; but in all cases presented by agents or attorneys, duplicate drawings must be filed before any examination can be had. They must be signed by the patentee, and attested by two witnesses, except when the specification describes the sections or figures, and refers to the parts by letters; in which case they are neither required to be signed, nor accompanied by written references, the whole making one instrument. Drawings are absolutely necessary when the case admits of them. They must be on separate sheets, distinct from the specification, and one at least must be made on stiff drawing paper.
This last order of Commissioner Ewbank is in direct violation of law and justice. The law requires (see sec. 6, act of March 3, 1837) positively the "applicant for a patent to furnish duplicate drawings in all cases admitting drawings." The Patent Office formerly, by way of indulgence, allowed applications to be entered with one drawing, and required two in case of granting the patent. This practice was not only loose, but as time has and will more plainly show, unfortunate. The drawings of the records in the Patent Office are much mutilated, and will not last many years; and it would have been far better for the office, patentees, and inventors generally, if the law had required triplicate drawings. We remember once recommending the grant of a patent for an improvement in spectacles, when a patented drawing was out of the portfolio, which represented the identical invention. This drawing had been taken out by some person to examine, or it was in the hands of some person to make a duplicate of it. The patent was issued, and thus there were two patents for the identical invention. But to return to the law and rules. Without assigning any reason whatever, the patent office enforces the law upon one class of men, patent agents, and discards it for another, viz, inventors who choose to put their applications in an imperfect condition. In the absence of a reason we have a right to the inference that such rule was made to serve some personal ends.
We are glad to find that the present Commissioner is fully alive to many of the peculiarities of this circular of information, and also of the defects in the patent laws. It is worthy to note that during the whole of the administration of the Patent Office by Mr. Ewbank, nothing whatever was done for the reform of patent law, or in any way to aid the cause of the inventors, for whom he proclaimed so much sympathy in his reports, passim. The Hon. D.K. Cartter, the present able Chairman of the Committee of Patents in the House, has taken a very lively interest in the subject of patent law, and possessed as he is of enlarged and liberal views upon this subject, we are sure that he would have been very ready to have cooperated with the Patent Office in bringing about those reforms so very desirable, and which have been urged upon Congress by inventors, without any disposition on the part of the former Commissioner of Patents to respond to their wishes, or even give the subject merited attention.
C.G.P., Ed. [Charles G. Page, co-editor]
Note -- Since the above was in type, we have received a copy of a new set of rules by the present Commissioner that seems to correct most if not all of the objections to the former pamphlet.
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal
Vol 1, January - June 1853, page 174-176
Rules of the Patent Office
The "Circular of Information" upon which we have passed some very temperate strictures, has been entirely remodeled by the present commissioner Mr. Hodges, and replaced by a code of regulations which will undoubtedly prove acceptable to most persons having business to transact with the Patent Office. Mr. Hodges very courteously and sagaciously has submitted his code to persons outside, having experience in business with the Patent office, for suggestions, objections, or amendments; and so wisely has it been drawn up, that he has probably committed most of those whom he has consulted, to the approval of his measures. We read at once in this circular, the propriety of appointing some one of the legal profession to the office of Commissioner of Patents. One of the first acts of Mr. Ewbank was to revise and alter the circular, prepared by Mr. Burke his predecessor, and as we have said above, our comments upon Mr. Ewbank's circular were temperate, when we pronounced it undignified and entirely unbecoming a public office. In a conversation with Mr. Webster nearly two years since, he remarked, that "if he had it in his power he would put a good lawyer at the head of the Patent Office." We replied that a good lawyer could not be had for the salary, except for a brief term. Mr. Webster replied with emphasis, "Then give him five thousand a year and I wouldn't care if he never saw a cog-wheel in his life. Your examiners have, or should have science enough, let them report to the commissioner for his decision." Mr. Webster, in addition to that broad glance of his, that took knowledge of all the affairs of government, had special opportunities of judging the necessities of the Patent Office, when this bureau was under the department of State, and his supervision. We are inclined to go even beyond the commissionership with our legal preferences. There are other offices in this bureau in which legal attainments are of high value, perhaps necessary; and in the examinerships, we have always regarded legal attainments as highly important to the successful discharge of the duties. We speak from long experience. For many years, while we were in the Patent Office in the capacity of examiner, there was but one lawyer among the subordinates. His legal knowledge and advice was common stock in the office, of daily use to himself and his brother examiners, and on many occasions saved the Patent Office from exposure to public derision. Of late, so much of the business with the Patent Office is transacted through gentlemen of the legal profession, that a deficiency of legal knowledge, if not embarrassing to an examiner, is so to the attorney, who is not slow to discover it. It is a mistake to suppose that the business of an examiner is purely scientific or mechanical. It is scientific, mechanical, legal and judicial; and we assert it with an assurance of a full response from influential sources, that the most extensive and profound knowledge of science or mechanics can never make an examiner if he have not a judicial mind. The Commissioner of Patents by law is alone recognized as the judge of claims for patents, but the Commissioner of Patents can hardly find time to decide upon the difficult and contested questions arising before the examiners, and hence it has always been the practice for the examiners to decide for themselves. Under such circumstances, the importance of legal knowledge should not be overlooked. We would not be understood as preferring lawyers for examiners, for an adequate scientific or mechanical knowledge is indispensable. The greatest evil now imminent, in connection with our patent system, is the enlargement of the examining corps. When there were but four principal examiners and four assistants, we were fully impressed with the difficulties which would grow out of an increase in the number of examiners, and originated and urged a plan for an increase in the corps without increasing the number or examiners. We proposed to make two grades of assistant examiners, viz, a first and second assistant. The duties of the first assistant to be similar to the duties of the examiners, so far as relates to investigations of facts bearing upon claims for patents, and to report the results to the examiner. The examiner also to conduct investigations so far as time would permit. The second assistant to perform the clerical duties of the assistant examiner as at present, in the preliminary examination of papers, etc. We regret exceedingly that the experiment of this system has not been tried. It has met with extensive approbation, and we have never heard either in or out of the Patent Office, the first reasonable objection to it. Whey it has not been tried, perhaps the late Commissioner Ewbank can now tell us, as it was brought fully to his attention. The evil we have just alluded to, is one which will increase with the number of principal examiners. The decisions of questions of patentability, is confessedly one of the most difficult undertakings within the whole range of jurisprudence. In the words of an eminent jurist, patent law is the "very metaphysics of law." There are now seven examinerships, and we must have seven incumbents, each possessed of different qualifications, of differently constituted minds and temperaments, and each a judge within his own precincts. One must be a chemist, another a mathematician and physical philosopher, another a mechanical philosopher, another an engineer, another an agriculturist, another a physician; in fact, the whole range of science and art, must be to some extent represented, and all must be men of more than ordinary talent and education. Now it is reasonable to presume that with a board so constituted, there might arise much contrariety of action in the respective departments, and that there would be positive need of daily conference. It so happens, whether rightfully or not, we leave to others, that at the Patent Office the examiners have always been in the habit of applying certain principles of Patent Law with more stringency to one class of inventions than to another.
(to be continued)
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal
Vol 1, January - June 1853, page 269-271
Rules of the Patent Office -- No 4
We stated in our last that there were seven Examiners in the Patent Office. At the time we wrote there were but six, but it was confidently expected that the bill providing for the seventh, which passed the House with so much dispatch, would also pass the Senate and become a law. The Bill was lost in the Senate, and there are therefore now six Examinerships.
Since we have been engaged in the transaction of business before the Patent Office, in behalf of inventors, we have been much surprised at the want of uniformity in the decisions upon applications for letters-patent under different classes of inventions. The constructions of Law and rulings of the Courts emanate from the Office from time to time under such different shapes, as to be exceedingly perplexing, and awaken the apprehension that principles of Law and the rights of inventors, may, ere long, give way entirely to caprice and arbitrary action.
If the correctness of our opinions in this matter should be called in question, we can publish some few recent cases entire, with the correspondence pro and con, and let those who are in doubt decide for themselves. How does this happen? and where is the remedy? The causes for these inconsistencies are several, and the remedy simple. As to the causes: First, the Examiners are embarrassed by an excess of business, and have not sufficient time to cultivate familiarity with the practical workings of inventions and the principles of Patent law, as laid down by the Courts. Second, there is a want of permanency in the Examinerships, owing to the insufficiency of the salary. By the time an Examiner becomes really qualified to act promptly and judiciously, he resigns, to avail himself in business of the knowledge and experience he has acquired in the Patent Office. Third, there are too many Examiners as the Office is at present constituted. There seems to be a necessity for more examiners, or some increase in the force of this branch of the Patent Office; but the present evils cannot be remedied by increasing the number of Examiners, without some provision for a supervisory and appellate tribunal. If there is any one proposition in connection with the reform of the Patent Office, more clear than another, it is this: The Patent Office will always be embarrassed, and the rights and interests of inventors afloat, so long as the Commissioner of Patents cannot find time to supervise the reports of the Examiners.
There are now six Examiners, possessed severally of different degrees of ability, knowledge, and experience in office, each having charge of distinct classes of inventions, and, as we have said before, each is a judge within his own precincts. Under the law it is the Commissioner's duty to decide; but it is a rare thing, in these days, for the Commissioner of Patents to decide questions of patentability. Owing to a most unfortunate misconception of the duties of this important Office, the employment of the Commissioner of Patents has of late years been mostly that of book-making; and it has come to this: that the letters and reports of Examiners, unfavorable to the grant of letters-patent, and the arguments and complaints of inventors and their attorneys in answer thereto, are rarely seen by the Commissioner, and thus, in fact, the Examiners are almost the sole arbiters and expounders of the law. How is it possible to expect any thing else but embarrassments and inconsistencies under such circumstances? We have repeatedly seen Examiners fretted, worried, and angry; we have heard an Examiners say more than once, that he would not consent to pass a certain claim though he felt sure the Courts would sustain it; we have often seen Examiners exulting in the hope or act of finding something to defeat a claim; and there is no concealing the fact that there is too much of a disposition on the part of Examiners to reject claims, and that where facts are wanting, abstractions and metaphysical refinements are resorted to, to carry out and foster this purpose; and lastly, we sometimes receive an Examiner's letter, which, for the credit of the Patent Office, ought to have been supervised and corrected as to manner as well as matter. In fine, it is plain to an axiomatic degree that the acts of the Examiner should be supervised, and that the necessity for supervision will increase with the number of Examiners; and equally plain are the duties of the Commissioner of Patents as defined by the statute. We are not inclined to be querulous, but we cannot shut our eyes to the really disastrous state of the Patent Office at the present time. When one Examiner rejects 90 per cent of all the cases before him, and another Examiner 20 per cent, we feel persuaded that wrong musts be done somewhere, and that reform is necessary. Before most of the Examiners the amount of unfinished business is so great, that a decision can hardly be looked for in a case, until four or six months have elapsed after the filing of the application; and this state of things, in our judgment, is not to be bettered by additional Examiners unless they have a directing head, who shall supervise them and expound the law. Lastly, the want of a sufficient appeal is one of the chief causes of the discrepant and arbitrary actions of Examiners, and one of the greatest grievances upon inventors. The Act of March 3d, 1839, providing for an appeal, appears really farcical, unless we suppose that the framers of that Act fully contemplated the faithful execution by the Commissioner of Patents, of the Act of July 4th, 1836 (Section 7), in regard to the refusal to grant letters-patent. Look at it! (Section 13 Act March 3d, 1839,) provides, "That there be paid annually out of the Patent fund to the Judge of Appeals, in consideration of the duties imposed, the sum of one hundred dollars." One hundred dollars, forsooth, to pay for hearing appeals, or rather, we should say, for correcting the errors of the Patent Office. It is clear that there was no anticipation at that time of six examiners. The mode of appeal has been recently somewhat changed, but in no respect, under existing circumstances, for the better. It is little better than a mockery, to impose upon Justice Morsell, of the Circuit Court, this extra and severe duty, for the paltry compensation of the appeal fee of twenty-five dollars. It is now seven months since this change was made, and although a great number of appeals are now before the Judge, yet he has returned his decision in only three cases.
One of the enormities in this matter of appeals is, that the inventor should pay the fees and costs in case of a reversal of the decision of the Patent Office. Take an instance, and no fiction: An Examiner rejects and application for letters-patent, and refers you to inventions which have no resemblance to the thing claimed, either through carelessness or misconception. You attempt to argue the case, and are told that you cannot be heard, and must go to the expense of an appeal. Is this justice? Notwithstanding these difficulties, we advise inventors to appeal, and to stretch their little privilege to its utmost tension, with a view of bringing about some speedy reform in this particular.
C.G.P., Ed. [Charles G. Page, co-editor]
(to be continued)
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal
Vol 1, January - June 1853, page 302-304
"Guide to the Practice of the Patent Office"
This is the title of a small official pamphlet, issued by S.H. Hodges, Esq., prior to his resignation of the office of Commissioner of Patents; but most of its contents will, no doubt, be retained, and acted upon by the present learned Commissioner, as the rules of that bureau.
We make a few extracts therefrom for the purpose of giving information to inventors, in an official form, as to the sphere of action of the bureau, and the importance of the correctness of papers drawn for letters-patent. He commences by saying:
"Before proceeding to furnish such information as this department may with propriety, it will be well to explain why it cannot answer some inquiries which are daily addressed to it. Letters are constantly received, in which the writers, after mentioning some discovery which has occurred to them, wish, before expending the time, labor and money necessary to mature their invention, to learn whether it is really new, and capable of being patented, or whether they have been anticipated. It would be gratifying to comply with these requests, and to communicate the desired information, if it were practicable; and it is not for want of inclination that it is not given, but because the appropriate occupations of those employed in the Office will not admit of their undertaking it. Were the supposed discoveries ever so well digested, and even reduced to actual practice, to determine whether they are new and useful -- in short, whether they are patentable -- requires precisely the same course of examination, of scrutiny into their intrinsic merits, of comparison with previous similar contrivances, indeed all the labor and expense, which an application for a patent would demand. Now, there has not been for years a period when the examiners have been able to keep pace with the applications, and to go through with the labors legitimately imposed upon them. They have not a moment to spare for any gratuitous service. Every hour employed upon it must be at the cost of those who have gained a right to their official exertions, by paying the prescribed fees. Others cannot lay claim to them with any justice until they have paid the same price. Besides this, such an examination could not be instituted, and the result disclosed, without committing the Office in a way that would not be endured in the most ordinary tribunal of law. Even a cursory opinion might embarrass the further consideration and disposal of the case, and should not be asked for, any more than the views of a judge upon a question which he might be called to try. If adverse parties should come forward and learn that one had been given, it would be impossible to allay their jealousy, or remove the suspicion their denunciations, if they were defeated, would cast upon the proceeding. When it is borne in mind that, in addition to all this, such inquiries are almost always crude and obscure, without model or drawings to illustrate them, and susceptible of infinite modifications; and that under these modifications may lurk the germ of some important invention, which can only be elucidated and rendered distinct by a long course of examination and discussion (as often happens in the case of patented inventions), it is obvious that the only alternative is to uniformly decline answering them. Neither can a response be given to such letters as contain brief and imperfect descriptions of certain improvements, and ask if they have ever been patented. The writers are not aware of the labor involved in undertaking to furnish such information.
"A digest of all the patents which have been granted under this Government would furnish much of the information sought by these correspondents. Every inventor might then learn for himself how far he had been forestalled in this country. To a considerable extent he would have the same means of information as the officials of this department. The publications of foreigners, as well as those of our fellow-citizens, histories of inventions, scientific works, periodicals, and the like, are as open to him as to them. Until such a work is authorized by Congress, his next resource must be the meager accounts contained in the annual Reports of the Office, and the records, drawings, and models in its care. The last are arranged and spread before him as amply as the space afforded them will allow, and every facility for examining such as he desires will be accorded to him. Any records and drawings that he calls for will be cheerfully produced for his inspection, and he may have copies of such of them as he considers worth the cost of a moderate fee. Such as are deposited under caveats, or upon applications for a patent which are still pending, or which have not been withdrawn, though rejected, must be excepted. The interests of the parties in these cases cannot well be secured without preserving entire secrecy, and no information respecting their claims can be furnished without their written consent.
"Neither can the Office volunteer any opinion upon the numerous questions which may be raised in patent suits. Inquiries as to the mode of prosecuting for infringements, as to the probable results, and others of this nature, must be addressed to those who devote themselves to such matters. The province of this department is to give information respecting only its own rules of practice. For the same reason, all questions as to the value of any invention must remain unanswered.
"Applicants would materially abridge the labors of the Office, and facilitate a speedy determination of their respective cases, if they would bear in mind that there are six requisites, uniformly insisted upon, before an application is considered ready for examination. These are, 1. the petition; 2. the specification; 3. the oath; 4. the drawings; 5. the model, or specimens, when the case admits of them; and 6. the payment of the appropriate fee.
"The importance of the specification is not easily overrated. The rights of the patentee are limited and defined by the claims embodied in it, and it forms the chief, often the only, rule for determining what they are. It constitutes, in fact, the contract between the patentee and the public; and the other parts of the application are, so to speak, but its appendages. It is very rare that any mistake in them furnishes a ground for assailing a patent; but patents are frequently impeached and annulled for some error in the specification. It is of vital consequence, therefore, that it be drawn up with skill and care.
"Besides describing the thing to be patented, it should, as a matter of precaution, contain full references to the drawings, if the case is proper for them; and some description of them may prove useful. It should be signed by the inventor (his executor, or administrator), and be attested by two witnesses.
"No great aid is to be expected, in drawing up the substance of the specification, from any forms. The character of the devices to be described varies so widely, and the details to be embodied demand such a different consideration and expression in different cases, that the language adopted on one occasion can rarely be employed on another, without great modification. There is hardly any class of documents in preparing which so little aid is to be derived from precedents; none where more depends on skill, experience, and ingenuity, or where these are more indispensable.
"Duplicate drawings will hereafter be required in every case that admits of drawings. They should be on sheets separate from the other papers, from eighteen to nineteen inches in length from top to bottom, and not less than thirteen inches across nor more than twenty-five, unless more space is necessary to exhibit the device or machine with clearness. They should be executed in artistic style; and such parts as cannot be otherwise made to appear, must be represented in detail, by plans and sections, which should be numbered and described in the specification.
"The Office cannot prepare drawings to accompany the applications. It furnishes certified copies of such as are on file, in proper cases, to those who call for them, but employs no one to draw for other purposes.
"The model should be made of durable materials, and be firmly constructed, so as to bear the frequent handling to which it is necessarily exposed. If of any soft wood, it should be painted, stained, or varnished. Its external dimensions should not, if practicable, exceed one cubic foot in measure. The name of the inventor, and that of the assignee, if the patent issue to him, should be permanently affixed to it, either by engraving or otherwise."
The importance attached to the specification, by the Commissioner of Patents, is just, and deserves the attention of every inventor. The drawing up of such papers should never be entrusted to persons who have not had great experience in such matters. A little extra time and money laid out in the first instance, would, in the end, save the inventor hundreds, and often thousands, of dollars, as many have found to their cost. It is easily understood why hats, coats, and shoes cannot be as well made by the tyro as by one who has learned the trade, and had experience in the manufacture. Yet many think the inventor of a machine can best prepare the legal document for securing it, without having even learned the statute law. The description of a machine is an art, and a very high one; and if to this be added the requirements of the law, and the definitions of the courts -- all of which are to be regarded -- the nice distinctions to be drawn between what is new, and what is old; the extensive knowledge required of the history and progress of the arts, and the practice of the Patent Office, every day growing more intricate, what art is there more difficult to become a proficient in? It is true many men undertake the business of preparing papers for inventors, no better qualified than themselves for the task, probably not as well; but there are others who are thoroughly educated for the profession; and if inventors would take the necessary pains to inform themselves as to the qualifications and standing of the attorneys they employ, we should hear less complaint of the uncertainty of patent property.
J.J.G., Ed. [J.J. Greenough, co-editor]
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal, Vol II
July 1853 - December 1853, page 78
Changes in the Patent Office
Judge Mason has evinced his appreciation of the professional character of the Patent Office, in retaining under his service the greater part of the permanent officers and the employees. The promotion of Mr. Peale to the examinership does credit to his discernment and sense of justice.
[probably written by J.J. Greenough, co-editor]
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal, Vol II
July 1853 - December 1853 page 79
The Patent Office
The appointment of Judge Mason to the Commissionership has already been attended with very beneficial results; and we most ardently hope he may be able to bring up the arrears of business. It requires now more than six months to reach an application in its regular turn for examination, and the results of such a delay are, in some cases, disastrous in the extreme. As we have said in a former communication, we do not believe the work of the Patent Office can ever be kept up, unless a new law be introduced making it optional with the inventor to take his patent or not, or a new mode adopted of administering the present law. Under the auspices of the present Commissioner, the work has already begun; and from the promptness with which he has overruled and reversed the actions of the Examiners in important cases, inventors will take encouragement that their rights are not to be sacrificed upon technicalities or abstractions, and that justice shall not be cheated by long delay.
We do not wish to meddle with the internal affairs of the Patent Office, but we cannot pass over in silence one feature which ill comports with our republican institutions, and cannot fail to surprise citizens and foreigners visiting the Patent Office. It there is a necessity for it, to say the least, it looks badly. "No Admittance!" emblazoned on a translucency in every door from the Examiner's down to the Messenger's room. "No Admittance!" without even the respectful qualification, "except on business." There are, doubtless, other ways of preventing interruption of the officers in the discharge of their duties, but this seems to have been preferred, unfortunately, we think. It would hardly offend more if it were to be displayed on the doors of the executive mansion.
C.G.P., Ed. [Charles G. Page, co-editor]
Extract from The American Polytechnic Journal, Vol II
July 1853 - December 1853, page 323
A List of the Officers employed in the United States Patent Office
Names Office Salary Date of From Duties
per Appointment whence
Charles Mason Commissioner $3000 16 May 1853 IA
S.T. Shugert Chief Clerk 2000 1 Jul 1853 PA
L.D. Gale Examiner 2500 1 Jul 1848 NY
J.H. Lane Examiner 2500 1 May 1851 VT
Henry Baldwin Examiner 2500 25 Apr 1852 TN
Geo. C. Schaeffer Examiner 2500 3 Nov 1852 KY
T.R. Peale Examiner 2500 26 May 1853 PA
Thos. T. Everett Examiner 2500 26 May 1853 NY
A.B. Little Class No. 4 1800 1 Jul 1853 NH Law Clerk
Wm. C. Langdon Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 KY 1st Asst Examiner
R.W.M. Johnston Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 NC 1st Asst Examiner
Daniel Breed Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 NY 1st Asst Examiner
J.M. Henry Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 KY 1st Asst Examiner
A. Herbert Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 MD 1st Asst Examiner
A.L. McIntire Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 DC Chief Draftsman
Hugh McCormmick Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 DC Pay Clerk
F.W. Ritter Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 NY Clerk
Thos. Gadsen Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 SC Recording letters
J.T. Fales Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 IA Principal Temporary
David Poole Class No. 3 1500 1 Jul 1853 PA Clerk
Wm. A. Hacker Class No. 2 1200 1 Jul 1853 IL 2d Asst Examiner
Chas. V. Moss Class No. 2 1200 1 Jul 1853 VA 2d Asst Examiner
Wm. Read Class No. 2 1200 1 Jul 1853 DE 2d Asst Examiner
E. Forman Class No. 2 1200 12 Jul 1853 2d Asst Examiner
John Van Sautvoord Class No. 2 1200 15 Jul 1853 NY 2d Asst Examiner
J. Tyssouski Class No. 2 1200 26 Jul 1853 Poland 2d Asst Examiner
Samuel P. Bell Class No. 2 1200 1 Jul 1853 NY Asst Machinist
Wm. W. Turner Librarian 1200 1 Sep 1852 NY
Wm. Slicer Machinist 1250 4 Jun 1853 MD
D.J. Brown Agricultural 1500 8 Jun 1853 NY
Wm. G. Cranch Temp. Clerk Est. Apr 1849 DC
John T. Ball Temp. Clerk Est. Feb 1852 DC
P.E. Wilson Temp. Clerk Est. 1 Sep 1852 VA
James S. Ewbank Temp. Clerk Est. Apr 1853 NY
I.H. Phillips Temp. Clerk * 1852 PA
S.W. Wood Temp. Clerk * Feb 1853 NY
C.E. Upperman Temp. Clerk ** 5 Mar 1848 DC
Wm. D. Bartlett Temp. Clerk ** Jul 1849 OH
Wm. R. Bradford Temp. Clerk ** 9 Sep 1849 KY
P.C. Howle Temp. Clerk ** Apr 1850 DC
T.M. O'Brien Temp. Clerk ** 25 May 1852 MD
S.D. Mills Temp. Clerk ** May 1853 MD
Thos. Johns Temp. Clerk ** MD
H. Holt Temp. Clerk ** May 1853 IA
D.C. Dunlap Temp. Clerk ** May 1853 IA
H.C. Bailey Temp. Clerk ** NY
J.A. Rowland Temp. Clerk ** May 1853 PA
P.M. McGill Temp. Clerk ** Jun 1853 DC
Elliott Coues Temp. Clerk ** Jun 1853
L. Elliott Temp. Clerk ** Jul 1853
* Amount received for copies of drawings
** Paid at the rate of 10 cents per 100 words
Extract from Greenough's American Polytechnic Journal, Vol III
January 1854 - June 1854 page 74
Patent Office Rule
In all cases of applications for the extension of a patent, the applicant must file his statement of the ascertained value of his invention, and of his receipts and expenditures, as required by law, within thirty days after the date of the first publication of the notice of such application.
C. Mason, Commissioner
Patent Office, 30th Dec., 1853
Extract from Greenough's American Polytechnic Journal, Vol III
January 1854 - June 1854 page 74-77
Government Patronage to Inventors
Much has been written and said of the difficulties and troubles that environ inventors, from the first inception of a novelty to its final completion and perfect success. We have had the unwearied thought and persevering endurance through toilsome days and gloomy nights set before us -- days unillumined by the cheering rays of sympathizing friendship, in which the projector had to struggle with his cramped means against the pity and ill-disguised credulity of the worldly-wise, so graphically depicted as to resemble romance; and, further, in the past numbers of this journal has been published, from the pen of one of the most experienced examiners from the Patent Office, the useless, onerous, and vexatious ordeals which inventors have to submit to in that bureau, till it would seem that those who escape being utterly blasted, and finally reach the haven of safety which a patent is supposed to afford, might there be allowed to ride unmolested, until some fraud could be alleged against their grant. Most unfortunately, however, the fate of a Socrates or a Homer often awaits the benefactor of his race; and if he escapes with character unsullied, it is in most cases at the expense of his pocket. We propose in this article to pass over the woes of parturation suffered by inventors, as well as the tardy and grudging acknowledgement of paternity by grant of letters patent, and tracing out their after troubles, if possible, call the attention of the Government at least, to the only proper remedy in its power, in cases where its interests require the employment of new inventions.
The stories of Whitney, of Fulton, and Watt, are too well known to need repeating here, but there are modern instances, that in times to come will be deemed quite as interesting. It is true that much which is patented is comparatively of little importance, and many a bright vision is blasted by the reality of a practical test; still we can rarely discern the dividing line till practice has determined the result. What then is the duty of Government in relation to inventions, and how far is it proper for it to go in aid of inventors? Nothing should be tested by Government, certainly, that cannot be used for its own purposes, and then only so far as is necessary for its wants; but where an invention is of a character required by Government, no penny-wise policy should prevent a careful investigation of its merits. If a new marine-engine, adapted to naval purposes, is presented, having features not yet well tested, it should receive careful attention, and experimental trial, the results of which, faithfully noted, should be reported and published; if successful, to benefit the public by their adoption; if a failure, to warn it to avoid: the losses would be trifling, and the benefits great. The same may be said of the multifarious plans of boilers. The good which might be done to the public on this point by the Government, while pursuing its legitimate sphere of action, would be incalculable; besides which, if the details of the experiments were noted and published, they would always be subject to criticism and correction should errors occur; it is by maintain a mysterious secrecy and reserve that gives room for doubts of the competence and fairness of those in authority, when questions of this kind arise.
The condenser, acknowledged on all hands as an important portion of the steam engine, has recently attracted attention, and well illustrates what we have before been trying to enforce.
The Government were a few years since impressed with the importance of using fresh water in marine boilers, and several condensers were brought to their notice for that purpose. Chief-Engineer Haswell reported in 1849 that if a condenser can successfully maintain fresh water in the boiler, it will be highly advantageous, and effect a great economy in many particulars: several plans being offered for that purpose, the Secretary of the Navy was in 1850 authorized by Congress to examine into the merits of the various condensers for supplying the boilers of marine steam-engines with fresh water, on which subject he was to report to the House of Representatives, with his opinion of the value of the tests, etc. The secretary appointed two gentlemen of science and ability, Professors Cresson, of Philadelphia, and Alexander, of Baltimore, to perform the duty of inspection, who with great diligence examined into the subject. Twenty-nine devices were inspected by this commission, who only consider four as worthy of especial notice; two for condensing, one for heating, and one for evaporating. Their report is very elaborate, but as they had but little or no opportunity for practical experiment with either of the condensers, they were unable to show any practical results. They do not consequently approve without qualification any plan entirely, but advise the trial of all, leaving the adoption of one or more to be settled after the results are made known -- the department concurred in their opinion.
In this controversy, if we could believe the claimants, there are four perfect pieces of apparatus, each more perfect than all the others; but unfortunately for their case, every inventor must be considered a partial judge in his own case; and we were sorry to see in a debate on the subject in the United States Senate, that the party who had published and circulated the greatest number of pamphlets among the members of Congress, got most credit in that honorable body. We will not here discuss the merits of either party; quite enough has been shown to satisfy all impartial judges that a fair experiment should be made of all the condensers, by persons known to the country to be impartial, and the result made public with all the details, not only for the benefit of the navy, but for the public generally. One of these condensers has been already placed upon a government ship, under the direct supervision of the inventor; of the results obtained from this instrument, the public are as yet most profoundly ignorant, or have had but slight intimation. A single experimental test of this condenser, under the superintendence of a responsible board of examiners, capable and willing to observe and publish the details, would be of more value in determining its value than thousands of ex parte pamphlets. In all cases of this kind facts are better than opinions, however able the engineer who gives them. In justice to the other inventors whose devices have been favorable noticed, they should have an equal chance in the Government.
According to the commissioners' report they deemed the various devices entitled to notice for the following reasons: -- Pirsson's double vacuum is recommended as advantageous; of this we have given an opinion in another place and need not repeat it here: as there is, however, an opening between the space outside the tubes and their interior, in Pirsson's plan, we consider there is really but one vacuum with a double set of pumps, when in the ordinary jet condenser there is but one required. As a condensing surface, Miller's tubes are strongly recommended; this, of course, is the condenser proper, and if they were really found better than the others would settle the question. The heater of Baldwin is the only part recommended, but the commissioners seem not to have known of the heaters of Pirsson and Miller. Baldwin's condenser may be therefore considered set aside by the commissioners, as the heater is properly no part of it. Lastly, Lynch's evaporator is named for its excellence, and we have no doubt it is good, but we believe the commissioners never saw the evaporators of the others. We give the commissioners the credit for giving reasons for their opinions, which is in favorable contrast with the reports of engineers generally. Now if the report of the commissioners, which has cost the country a large sum of money, is considered of any value and entitled to consideration, each of the devices recommended by them should be carefully experimented upon. We doubt if they can be combined -- Pirsson's and Miller's certainly cannot, but their respective merits can be made known.
We fear the secretary's report misleads the senate in leading them to believe all the condensers were reported by the commission as of equal value: we think the report will not warrant this conclusion.
We notice a fact stated in a letter from the commissioners to the secretary of the navy, which has been published, on a matter that deserves careful investigation by the Government. It is the incondensable gas of an explosive nature generated in boilers, especially when using impure water. This gas has not been thoroughly analyzed with any care that we are aware of, but it is of immense importance, and deserves the strictest scrutiny; it is a source of inconceivable danger, and uncontrollable. The surface condenser is well calculated to prevent its rapid generation, and would abstract it from the engine and pass it off almost entirely if it worked perfectly. We hope to have more light on this subject, the investigation of which, being inexpensive, should be done by the Government, as it is one of the subjects upon which all engineers with whom we have conversed are confessedly ignorant; and it is a more important duty of Government to furnish this information than to legislate against steam-boiler explosions. The publication of the report of Messrs. Alexander and Cresson condensed, would be of some service, and a further investigation by them or some other person would be of infinite value. We would suggest that every marine-engine now working should have her action noted in the form of a log kept by the engineer, and reported to supervising engineers appointed by law, and from them reported to the Government to be analyzed and digested into a report to Congress. This would elicit much valuable information, and would show the knowledge and ability of the engineers, and their qualifications, and then if the Government licensed engineers it would be a controlling supervision over the whole matter to be attained in no other way, and would afford more perfect instruction to the practical man, and better secure the public safety, than any thing we have yet seen suggested.
J.J.G., Ed. [J.J. Greenough, co-editor]
Extract from Greenough's American Polytechnic Journal, Vol IV
July 1854 - December 1854, pages 1-?
The New Model Room of the United States Patent Office
[line drawing entitled "New Model Room, Patent Office]
We this month present our readers with an interior view of the new model room of the United States Patent Office. It occupies the whole of the second floor of the east wing of the splendid marble building, erected and designed solely for the use of the Patent Office -- a fitting monument to the greatness and power of invention.
For the present, a portion of the basement and first floor of this wing of the Patent Office is temporarily occupied by the Secretary of the Interior. We hope that this temporary occupation will be short, and that, at no very distant day, the Patent Office will be made altogether independent of this department, which now, however able the Secretary of the Interior may be, acts as a clogg upon the business of the office.
But we will return to the immediate subject of this notice, the new model room, which is now nearly finished, and as soon as the cases are made and put up, will be ready to receive the splendid collection of patented models, unequalled by any other in the world. The room is about one hundred and seventy feet long, by sixty-five wide; the ceiling, which is lofty, is a series of groined aches turned in brick, and supported by a double row of square columns of marble; it is adorned with fresco ornaments of very chaste design, executed in good taste. A series of iron tie-rods put across the spring of the arches, to sustain their thrust, very much detract from the general appearance of solidity, lightness and beauty, but we hope it will be found unnecessary to retain them, and have consequently omitted them from our engraving. On the floor of this hall a double row of cases, forty-two in number, are to be placed on the sides; they are made of iron, but are to be painted a light color. These cases are about ten feet high, and on them rests a broad platform of wood, forming a gallery, approached by stair cases at proper points. Upon this platform or gallery, there is a second row of cases, forty in number, made of wood -- the style of all the cases is somewhat similar to those now in use in the Patent Office for Models.
The present active and intelligent machinist of the office has devised a new method of arranging the models, as that now in use is found defective, owing to the vast additions to the collection since it was adopted. It will improve the appearance and display of the models, and facilitate the
[I neglected to copy beyond this point. KWD]
Extract from Greenough's American Polytechnic Journal, Vol IV
July 1854 - December 1854, pages 206-207
Rules of the Patent Office
U.S. Patent Office
August 12th, 1854
Previous to the second examination of any case which has once been rejected, the 7th section of the act of 1836, requires the applicant to renew, in substance, the oath originally filed with his specification. After thus applying for a second examination, no withdrawal of any part of the fee paid is authorized.
The previous practice of the office having on a recent occasion been seriously questioned, the law has been carefully considered, and, there being no reasonable doubt of its having been heretofore departed from in this respect, the charge above intimated seems unavoidable.
But the applicant, without renewing his oath, or forfeiting his right to withdrawal, may point out any mistake or oversight on the part of the office, which will be cheerfully corrected.
To render this change as gradual and as little inconvenient as possible, this rule will only be held applicable to cases wherein the first rejection shall be made after the promulgation of the foregoing order.
C. Mason, Commissioner of Patents
U.S. Patent Office
October 23d, 1854
Hereafter, no model will be received at this office, as exhibits in interference, or in other cases, exceeding one foot in length or height. They should be neatly and substantially made, and of durable materials.
C. Mason, Commissioner
Models for the U.S. patent office must be fastened at all their different parts, by other means than by gluing, as such will not endure the handling and atmosphere that they are necessarily exposed to.
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