Patent Materials from Scientific American, vol 8 old series (Sep 1852 - Aug 1853)
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 4, p 32, 9 October 1852
The Patent Office
The Patent Office is now undergoing improvement, workmen being engaged in trimming the exterior walls of the main building. The east wing is rapidly approaching to a completion. The rooms have been plastered, and are nearly ready for painting; the beautiful and massive marble columns of the front portico have been set, and the movements generally in and about the premises seem to promise a finish by the first of December. Incipient measures are in progress for an early commencement of the west wing. When this shall have been completed, the Patent Office will indeed be the pride of the country and a monument of its inventive genius. -- [Republic]
[We are glad of all this; it should have been done long ago. The law providing for the display of models in the Patent Office has been a dead letter for a long time, on account of the gallery being occupied with objects of natural history, which should never have been admitted there. A museum should have been built for them, rather than that thousands of models should have been suffered to lie rusting hid up in the cellars of the Patent Office. It is a shame and disgrace to our country to see laws suspended in the execution, for one purpose more than another. We hope soon to see the whole Patent Office devoted to its appropriate purposes, viz., things connected with inventions, science, and art.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 15, p 118, 25 December 1852
The Patent Office
The Secretary of the Interior, in his Report makes some excellent suggestions respecting the Patent Office. He says: --
There is probably no bureau connected with the government in whose operations the public at large feel a deeper interest than those of the Patent Office. It is inseparably associated with every interest of our country. The mechanic, the merchant, the manufacturer, and the farmer, are all concerned in every thing which diminishes the labor of production in any of the departments of industry. Our people are eminently practical and ingenious. They are constantly employed in the discovery of new means of accomplishing important results at a diminished rate of time, labor, and money. The steam engine, the cotton gin, and the magnetic telegraph, are striking and imperishable memorials of the success which has attended their efforts. In the early period of our history, when population was sparse and the prices of agricultural productions high, the labor of the country was directed mainly to the cultivation of the soil. But, as population progressively increases, more attention is devoted to mechanical pursuits and the invention of machinery by which the work of many may be accomplished by a few. Not a day passes without furnishing some evidence of this fact in the form of applications for patents for important inventions and discoveries. The mechanical interest has therefore become one of great magnitude, and it is justly entitled to all the protection and assistance which can be bestowed by Congress consistently with the provisions of the Constitution.
The general principle[s] of our patent system seem to have met with universal approbation, and to have been attended with beneficent results in practice. Since the organization of the office in 1836, it has been advanced with rapid strides. At that state one "examining clerk" was enabled to make all the preliminary investigations which were required to ascertain whether the applicant was entitled to a patent; but such has been the increase of the business that six principal examiners and as many assistants are not now able to keep pace with it. The number of models in the office on the first day of January, 1836, was 1,069. [No! KWD] In the beginning of the year 1851, they had increased to 17,257, and at the close of the present year they will fall but little short of 23,000. If they should continue to increase in this proportion, making no allowance for the augmentation consequent on the increase of population, by the close of the present century they will amount to 150,000, and the whole of the present Patent Office edifice will not be sufficient for their convenient display. To provide against this contingency, as well as to accomplish other important results, I respectfully propose that the Commissioner of Patents be required to have prepared for publication a careful analytical and descriptive index of all discoveries and inventions which have been patented, accompanied by accurate descriptions and drawings which will fully explain the principles and practical operation of the subject of the patent. The advantages of such a publication would be almost incalculable. It would not only perpetuate the invention or discovery by avoiding the casualties by fire and other causes, but it would multiply and diffuse among the people at large the specifications and descriptions, and substantially bring home to every neighborhood to which a copy of the work might be sent the benefits of the Patent Office. In much the larger number of cases the necessity for preserving and displaying the models would be obviated. The pages of the published report would be a safer and more convenient depository for them than the cabinets of the Patent Office, and they would be accessible to everybody. Inventors in remote parts of the country would be placed on an equal footing with those residing near the seat of Government. -- When their thoughts were turned to a particular class of machinery, instead of being compelled to make a journey to Washington see what had already been done in that department of the arts, they could at once turn to the analytical index and ascertain what progress had been made by others.
The report of Mr. Stansbury on the London Industrial Exhibition of 1851, to which allusion was made in my last annual report, has been delayed by causes beyond his control. -- It will be ready to be laid before Congress in the course of a few weeks.
[We like the above; we hope that something of this kind of policy will be carried out for the benefit of inventors. It is now four years since we proposed the same thing, only we thought at the time that the Smithsonian Institute could not do better than perform such a task -- an illustrated history of American inventions and discoveries.
With respect to the models, it would please us if Mr. Stuart had recommended that those belonging to rejected applicants should be returned; of what use is it to retain them, they are only duplicates. Some thousands of them are rusting in the Patent Office cellar.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 24, p 189, 26 February 1853
The Commissioner of Patents
With a change of administration there will no doubt be a change in the Patent Office. This has been the rule, and we suppose ever will be. A new Commissioner of Patents has always been appointed with the elevation of an opposite political party to power. The present Commissioner, S.H. Hodges, Esq., has been but a short time in office, but during that period he has earned for himself in his new capacity, a high character for urbanity, ability, and courtesy. He has qualities of mind which eminently fit him for such an office, and had his political party been successful, we would have anticipated much good from his future administration. This, however, we cannot expect, and we have no views to present opposed to political rules when good men are selected to fill the places of good men.
The office of Commissioner of Patents is a very responsible one, and politically speaking is one of great influence. The number of inventors in these United States is not small, and their influence we know is very powerful. A man of courteous manners, of a clear mind, well acquainted with law, mechanics, and scientific matters, and of an honest open character, is required to fill such an office. He should also be intimately acquainted with inventions and the affairs of the Patent Office. Now where is the man to be found in the political ranks of the successful party who has these personal qualifications, without which we would not desire to see him appointed Commissioner of Patents. The Hon. D.K. Cartter, of Ohio, the present Chairman of the Committee of Patents in the House of Representatives, appears to us to be well qualified to fill it. We have no interest in the matter excepting the desire to see a good and proper Commissioner appointed. We certainly have some knowledge of the qualifications necessary for any man to fill that office, and we merely point to a gentleman, who appears to us to possess them. We do not say who should get the office, we merely point out the qualifications a person must have to perform its duties for the benefit of inventors, the progress of arts and science, the honor of our country, and the credit and influence of the party in power.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 25, p 195, 5 March 1853
The Patent Office Safe
On Thursday, the 17th inst., the House of Representatives, in the Committee of the Whole, while considering the House Bill, making appropriations for the civil and diplomatic expenses of government for the year ending June, 1854, an attempt was made to insert a clause in the bill whereby the Secretary of Interior could construe it to take possession of the east wing of the patent Office, and thus divert it from its legitimate object, a movement against which we have always spoken on every proper occasion. The present attempt meet with a signal and well merited defeat, and resulted in an amendment made to the bill, which is prohibitory of the Patent Office being used by the Secretary of the Interior, until directed so to do by law.
The question came up this way:
"The last clause of the section, providing for the expenses of the Department of the Interior, was then read as follows: --
'Contingent expenses of said building, viz.: For labor, fuel, lights, and incidental expenses, two thousand two hundred dollars.'
Mr. Houston said, I move to strike out the word 'said,' and insert in lieu thereof the words 'east wing of the Patent Office.'"
Mr. Stanton asked of Mr. Houston, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, what was the meaning of the amendment. He was answered. The proposition is, "that as the Secretary of the Interior will occupy the east wing of the Patent Office, and the proposition is that the fund shall be applied to that purpose." Mr. Stanton stated that he knew of no law that allowed the Secretary to enter and take possession of the building. Mr. Cartter, of Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Patents offered the following amendment.
Provided, That neither the office of the Secretary of the Interior, nor any bureau thereof, other than the Patent Office, shall be located in the Patent Office Building until directed by law.
Mr. Houston asked the Chair if this amendment to his amendment was now in order. The Chairman, Mr. Orr, decided that it was not. Mr. Cartter said: --
"I appeal from that decision. This is an insidious attempt to divert the Patent Office Building from the purpose for which it was designed. I ask for the reading of my amendment.
The Clerk read the amendment.
The Chairman. The Chairman decides that that amendment is not in order. From that decision the gentleman from Ohio appeals. The question is, "shall the decision of the Chair stand as the judgment of the Committee?"
Mr. Sweetser. Upon that question I demand tellers.
Tellers were ordered, and Messrs. Polk and Hart were appointed.
The question was then taken, and the tellers reported -- ayes 39, noes 83.
So the decision of the Chair was overruled, and the amendment to the amendment was decided to be in order.
Mr. Cartter. I wish simply to remark without detaining the committee, that my sole object is to preserve the Patent Office Building, to answer the necessities of this self-sustaining Department until Congress shall by law say that they shall not have it. That is the whole object of the amendment.
The question was then taken on the amendment to the amendment, and on a division there were -- ayes 74, noes 48.
So the amendment to the amendment was agreed to.
Last year an attempt was made to get a law passed for the Secretary of the Interior to have the east wing of the Patent Office; it was defeated, and here comes up a second attempt, and an insidious one, as stated by Mr. Cartter to obtain it again. The movement exhibited a remarkable want of political sagacity.
Messrs. Stanton, of Kentucky, and Mr. Cartter, were the principal defenders of the rights of inventors. Messrs. Stephens and Jones were the advocates of Mr. Houston's amendment. We believe that both Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, and Mr. Jones, of Tennessee would have spoken otherwise than they did if they had understood the question in all its details. They no doubt thought they were in the right upon the information which they had received respecting the Patent Office. The following are a few of Mr. Cartter's remarks: --
The gentleman says that the object of the amendment is to make sense of the clause. No sir, it is to plaster the Department of the Interior upon the Patent Office Building, and that is a kind of sense that I do not want made of it.
Now, let me say a word or two in reference to the precise attitude of the Patent Office to the Government. In the first place, it is a Congressional office -- an office created for a specific purpose, maintained by its own funds, and accountable directly to this body with the co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. To whom are the reports of the Patent Office made? They are made here and to this body directly. How is the machinery of the Patent Office maintained? It is maintained out of the funds contributed to it by the artisans who take out patents -- a peculiarity that the inventors and mechanics seek to maintain for it. How are the appointments made? They are made directly by the President.
But, sir, in reference to the capacity of this building. My colleagues say that this building is sufficiently large for the accommodation of both these Departments. Now, there are something like one hundred and fifty clerks in the Department of the Interior -- Stow them away in the Patent Office, and there will not be room for a solitary Examiner. But my colleague says that the building is abundantly sufficient, or that it has surplus room. Why sir, is my colleague aware that the damp from the walls of that building is today moulding away the models of patents granted to the genius of this country?
On the 21st inst. the House took up this Bill to act on the amendments reported from the Committee of the Whole, and the amendment offered by Mr. Cartter was carried by a vote of 104 to 69.
We understand that the Secretary of the Interior gave an order two weeks ago for the Commissioner, S.H. Hodges, to vacate the two new rooms now occupied by him; this amendment to the House Bill, keeps him out of the Patent Office.
We have intelligence from Washington stating that the new government will retain the new building of the Patent Office, for its legitimate purpose, and that the new Commissioner of Patents will have a higher salary, and an independence of the Secretary of the Interior. If the Democrats carry out this sensible and just policy, they will retain and make many friends. We hope they will do so for the promotion and advancement of science and art.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 30, p 237, 9 April 1853
Withdrawals from the Patent Office
We request the attention of our readers to the following letter: --
U. S. Patent Office, Washington
March 20, 1853
Sir -- In reply to yours of the 1st inst., I have to inform you that, doubting the legality of refunding money on the withdrawal of an application, the fee on which consists in part of that paid on filing a caveat, I have submitted the question to the Attorney General, and until his decision shall have been communicated to the Patent Office, all such applications for withdrawals must be suspended.
Since the re-organization of the Patent Office in 1836, every Commissioner of Patents has refunded the sum of twenty dollars according to the plain provisions of the law -- on the withdrawal of every application for a patent. When Mr. Hodges was appointed he sent out a new order of instructions respecting such payments, and the above is the first case bearing on the subject which has come under our cognizance. Had he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, abiding by the plain language of the law, the Attorney General would have been saved the trouble of deciding upon such a question, and other troubles in connection with it, would also have been avoided.
Section 12, of the Patent Act of 1836, in relation to the fees of caveats says, "which sum of $20, in case the person filing such caveat shall afterwards take out a patent for the invention therein mentioned, shall be considered a part of the sum herein required for the same."
That specific sum mentioned as herein required refers to section 7, of the same act, which says, in reference to withdrawals: -- "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 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 this said applicant the sum of twenty dollars." This is all so plain that the wayfaring man need not err in respect to its meaning; it can have no other than just paying back $20 upon every withdrawal of an application for patent. To refuse to pay it back in the above case is a violation, we believe, of the plain letter of the law; the duty of the Commissioner was to certify at once, to a copy of the application for a withdrawal, so that the money returnable by law should be granted immediately to the applicant. To alter the established policy of the Patent Office after it has paid out thousands of dollars for the past seventeen years for such withdrawals, exhibits a want of consideration. Before the old policy can be abandoned, with a regard to justice, the patent laws must be altered. If it were the law to refund no moneys on rejected applications, upon which caveats had been filed, we would not and could not utter a disproving word, but instead or this being the case, there is not a syllable in the whole Patent Code authorizing the Patent Office to refuse the paying back of $20 on every withdrawal, when the application had been fully made.
It is true that, in the case of filing a caveat, and again applying the fees to an application for a patent, more labor is entailed upon the Patent Office than in a case where no caveat has been filed; but the Patent Office is not in debt; the fees pay all the expenses. If, however, it is considered necessary to charge more for a case like the above, let the law be altered to charge $25 for a caveat and allow $20 to form part of the patent fee. Or let $5 be the Patent Office fee for a caveat, and let $30, in every case, be paid on the application for a patent. Five dollars are sufficient to cover all the expenses of the Patent Office for filing a caveat. We should have no objections to such an alteration of our patent laws, but until they are so altered let the Patent Office honestly and rigidly adhere to the law as it is, and make no rules which do not harmonize with the code.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 33, p 261, 30 April 1853
The Patent Office done for
The new Secretary of the Interior, Mr. McClelland, has removed with his clerks into the East wing of the Patent Office. A resolution on the motion of Mr. Cartter, of Ohio, passed the House of Representatives against the occupation of the Patent Office by any other corps than those belonging to the Patent Office; this resolution was struck out by the Senate, and now the Patent Office is done for. It will be long before it can be occupied for the purposes originally designed in its construction. Hundreds of models must still rust and rot in the vaults, and the rights and interests of the inventors of the Republic be trampled under foot. The late Secretary of the Interior is to blame, as he is "the one by whom the offense came." We had hoped that the whole Patent Office building would have been kept intact for the use of the inventor's business, and an agricultural department for the benefit of our planters and farmers, the two interests, mechanical and agricultural, dwelling in harmony as they have heretofore.
The New Commissioner of Patents
Judge Mason, the new Commissioner of Patents, has not yet arrived in Washington. In the meantime the Chief Clerk is Acting Commissioner. It is said that there is an immense army of office seekers awaiting his Honor's arrival at the seat of government. It is intended by many to get the new Commissioner to make some new rules for the hearing of rejected applications, viz., that he will personally consider written arguments in reply to the rejections of the Examiners. In the meantime the Examiners appear to be working hard, as the long list of claims this week in our columns testify.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 40, p 317, 18 June 1853
Management of the Patent Office
The Patent Office is one of the most important departments connected with our government. It was organized for the purpose of promoting the progress of discovery and the useful arts, and to protect the peculiar rights of inventors, a class of men who have done more for the advancement of civilization, and the honor and greatness of our country, than all the political economists that have ever lived. The steam engine, the cotton gin, the spinning jenny, the power loom, the telegraph, the sewing machine, and all other useful inventions, are iron apostles of civilization; they convince without arguing, and subdue all opposition by the eloquence of action. The management of the Patent Office -- administration of the laws which regulate the issue of patents -- is therefore of great consequence, not only to inventors, but the whole people. The Commissioner of Patents, as the supreme head, should be acquainted with the laws of patents, a man of good judgment, of scientific ability, candor, and impartiality. The examiners should be men possessed of a thorough knowledge of the machinery and articles in their several departments, patient in investigation, industrious, sensible, generous, and impartial, so that no injustice should be done by them to any applicant for a patent. Good men, although liable to make mistakes (for none are perfect) are always willing to rectify the same when they are pointed out; while bad men, under the best laws, cannot be trusted in any capacity.
The present Commissioner of Patents -- Judge Mason -- has given evidence since he entered upon the duties of his office, of great ability and uprightness. He has changed the policy which was pursued by the Patent Office for a short time, and which we condemned on page 247, in reference to retaining all the fee for rejected applications on which caveats had been filed. According to the good old custom and letter of the law, two thirds of the fees on rejected applications will hereafter be returned on all withdrawals; and we have no doubt but every useful reform which Judge Mason in his wisdom deems necessary to the good administration of the Patent Office affairs, will be carried out at the proper time and in the proper manner.
At the present time the Patent Office is far behind, at least six months, in the examination of applications. This is very trying to the patience of inventors, and sometimes injurious to their best interests. The business of the Patent Office should always be in such a state that no application should be longer than one month in the office before it is examined. When men in any office are crowded with business, their work is oftentimes but superficially performed. At the present moment the examining corps of the Patent Office, although very diligent, are not strong enough in numbers to perform their incumbent duties so promptly and thoroughly as they should be fulfilled. Examiners have sometimes had much extra labor, unpleasant and extended correspondence, owing to hasty adverse decisions. An applicant for a patent should always have the benefit of a doubt in the mind of an examiner, for a trial at law, after all, is the only real binding cord of legality.
We hope that during the next session of Congress, an addition will be made by law to the examining corps, so as to render every department complete and effective. The present Commissioner will then have been in office to see and know exactly what is wanted, and will be the most proper person to institute and recommend such measures as will make the Patent Office the best managed of any in connection with our government.
Patent Agents -- A Caution
It is well known to many of our readers that there are located in the City of Washington a vast horde of self-styled "solicitors," who profess to undertake all kinds of professional business before the different departments of the Federal Government. This class of solicitors are for the most part shipwrecked politicians, who hang about the corridors of the public buildings, sometimes after the style of the "Peter Funks" of this city, -- ready, with the most obsequious politeness, to undertake all kinds of jobs, and for very small fees. Of course, having once, perchance either by implication or in fact been the suckers of government pappage, they are supposed to understand the "ropes," and of course have more influence in the proper direction than any other class of men.
The apparent success of these professional gentlemen has had its influence upon many uninitiated into the mysteries of "official life," and as a consequence growing out of it, Washington has become a sort of Mecca for young men thirsting for renown and money, who imagine that they are there easily attainable and flow directly from the large annual appropriations made by Congress.
The class of men we are now considering have really nothing but windy pretensions, which they display in long and tolerably ingenious circulars of information to the public. It is quite notorious that worth and respectability in professional life suffer in character and business on account of these false pretenders. This is naked truth, and is apparent to all familiar with the peculiarities of Washington.
There are also located near the Patent Office a class of men known as Patent Agents; we are acquainted with several of the highest respectability, who are justly entitled to public confidence, yet, after all, they suffer in their business and reputation by pretenders, who back their claims by professional circulars of "wondrous length and thundering sound," addressed to inventors and patentees, promising the most brilliant results.
We feel called upon, as an act of justice to ourselves and other respectable Agents, to caution inventors and patentees against all such characters, -- they are unreliable, and, like sharks, feed upon humanity, whose vitals they search after, not only in the streets and public buildings of Washington, but throughout the whole country. This nuisance became so intolerable during the administration of Mr. Burke, that he was compelled, to save the Patent Office from the disgrace of this besieging army, to post circulars of warning along the walls of the Office. This checked their operations somewhat, so far as the Patent Office was concerned, and their theatre of operations then extended to the country, so that now almost every issue of the Scientific American brings to us letters of inquiry -- illegitimate fruit -- in reference to some Agents who pretend a desire to purchase rights in an invention, perhaps not patented, and who accompany the request by enclosing a professional card, so obscure in its meaning as to lead some of our clients into the belief that they are our Washington Agents. These men derive their information about inventions and patents from notices in the columns of the Scientific American, and to some inventors they are no better than horse leeches.
We wish our own clients distinctly to understand that we are our own Agents, and act perfectly independent of any support in or around Washington. The horde of Agents who thrust their pretensions upon inventors and patentees, have infinitely more profession than real merit, and cannot, as a general thing, be relied upon; they are also vastly increasing, and now swarm like the locusts of Egypt -- the public must either steer clear of them or suffer themselves to be stung.
Without wishing to create a false impression in regard to worthy Patent Agents near the Patent Office, we will state, that whenever any of our readers wish to employ reliable agents in Washington to transact any business with the Patent Office, we will, upon application, furnish them with the names of responsible men. We have very reluctantly thrust this subject into our columns. We have done it to caution the public against those who have no merits of their own, but endeavor to build themselves up at the expense of reliable and able men, and much to the cost of their clients.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 42, p 331, 2 July 1853
The United States Patent Office
We often speak of reforming this and that evil, not because there is a universal shouting everywhere for reform at the present day, but because the reform or reforms we advocate, in our opinion, would be more than a mere change of system -- they would result in permanent benefits. We never declaim against an evil until we have a remedy to propose, and we have made ourselves acquainted with both the evil and proposed remedy. We are conservative in that which is, until we know of a superior substitute. It is, however, somewhat fashionable at the present day, for would-be patriots and philanthropists to talk loudly of great reforms, which, when calmly examined by the light of knowledge and reason, are nothing but destructive and injurious changes. Of this character is a reform proposed for the United States Patent Office by a Washington correspondent of the "New York Tribune," in a letter in that paper of the 15th inst. Of some things he speaks sensibly and well, but when he speaks of the way alleged new inventions should be examined, and the practice of the Patent Office in examining them, he exhibits a want of correct knowledge of his subject. He says:
"With all our worship of the Baconian philosophy, it seems never thoroughly to have penetrated the Patent Office. A machine or process is submitted to the Examiners, and they rummage their books, brains, and perhaps the model shelves, to see whether the same combination or method has been devised for that or any other purpose before. If not, it is new, and, being of course useful, a patent is issued. The last thing the Examiner or Honorable Commissioner thinks of is to inquire whether this new invention is practically superior to others for the same purpose that have preceded it. The law enjoins no such inquiry, unless it be in regard to a claim expressly for an improvement. But has not every man a right to the exclusive use and property of his own invention, whether it is superior, practically, to all others or not? It may be so. Let him have a patent if he insists on it. But by all means let the office thoroughly and scientifically test the practical superiority of the invention over older ones for the same purpose, and if that is found nil, let that fact be certified, or the reverse if otherwise. In other words, let the Patent Office be organized with suitable officers, to try this important question and report in every case, not so much opinions, as honest facts, from which the public may form their own.
"The present state of the Patent Law and practice is so much the reverse of this, so completely un-Baconian, that the author of a worthless invention stands a better chance of getting a patent than does the author of a valuable one. A really good invention is almost uniformly more simple and direct in its combination of means; and just in proportion as it is simple, does it become difficult for the Examiner to find in it novelty -- that almost sole legal element of patentability. He is puzzled to get hold of what he calls a "new principle" in it. It may work infinitely better than anything ever employed for the same purpose -- indeed, it may accomplish its purpose while every previous machine has proved a failure -- and yet, because the Examiner cannot see, from models, drawings, or specifications, a new or distinct 'Principle,' (O, the mystery there is in that word!) he will refuse a patent! A Baconian commission, which should practically test the results with working machines, or compare the working of the older ones, would probably bring in a very different verdict. So it happens that from the Patent Office, as at present organized and regulated, real, practical inventors find it very difficult to get protection, while the country at large gets unboundedly cheated."
We have quoted the article fairly in order to point out its defects. The law gives the Commissioner of Patents power to decide both upon the usefulness and the novelty of an invention, and if the invention has nothing novel (new) about it, then it must be old and consequently a patent cannot be granted; to do so would be granting a patent for another man's invention. If a new machine operates better than an old one, there must be some reason for its doing so; it must have some new part, or arrangement to enable it to operate better, consequently that new part or arrangement can be claimed and a patent will be granted if the case is carried up by appeal. There can be no doubt of this, and the writer of the article quoted, shows himself to be ignorant of the law in this respect. A certain machine exactly like another may operate better, because more work has been expended upon it, but that is not an invention, and for mere excellence in workmanship, no patent can be granted. The manner proposed of carrying out the said correspondent's Baconian philosophy in the Patent Office savors strongly of gammon. To carry it out, would require every inventor to construct and furnish a large working machine, and there would have to be commissioners appointed to test and examine the same, whose expenses, no doubt, the inventor would be called upon to pay, and after all their judgment might be inefficient, and they might condemn a good machine, and recommend a worthless one. It is quite easy to deceive some of the smartest men appointed to power and place; witness the letter of the late Secretary of the Navy, J.H. Kennedy, on the "Ericsson," which subsequent events have proven to be a piece of nonsense. The government has already paid handsomely for useless inventions, recommended by appointed commissioners, and we don't want government commissioners to be the judges of the merits of inventions; inventors are the best judges of the value of their own inventions, and they take patents on their own responsibility. The public are not so easily deceived with inventions as some imagine; there would be far more deception practiced if government commissioners were appointed to place their seal of approval or disapproval on inventions. The present system of examining and granting patents has no defects in law, if there are some in practice, and these we hope to see reformed before many months pass over our heads.
Scientific American, v 8 (os), no 46, p 365, 30 July 1853
Improvements in the Patent Office
As many inventors who have made applications for Patents, feel anxious respecting the results, especially as they have experienced the feelings of "hope delayed, maketh the heart sick," we would state, that the reason why there has been so much delay in examinations, was owing to an inadequate examining force, and the many changes which have taken place in the Office during the past year. Not less than a thousand cases, unexamined, were on the files of the Office last week., but as six additional Assistant Examiners have been appointed recently by the new Commissioner, Judge Mason, we expect that all the delayed cases will soon be reached, and that in future, we shall have no such accumulations of unexamined applications in the Patent Office. No application should remain in the Patent Office longer than one month before it is examined. We have known Examiners to give themselves, and the Office, much unnecessary trouble and labor, by too hasty rejections -- this they should be exceedingly careful to avoid for their own sakes, and that of Inventors.
Go to top page of Patent Office history material