Scientific American, v 8 (ns) no 1, p 7, 3 January 1863
Internal Revenue Stamps upon Patent Documents
United States Patent Office
Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 1862
Notice is hereby given, that the following rules have been adopted for the purpose of conforming to the requirements of the Act of Congress of July 1st, 1862, entitled, "An Act to provide Internal Revenue to support the Government and pay Interest on the Public Debt," and of the decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
1. A stamp, or stamps, of the value of one dollar, will be required upon all Powers-of-Attorney dated after the First Day of January, 1863, authorizing an attorney or agent to transact business with this office relative to applications for Patents.
2. All assignments of Patents, whether stamped or not, will be recorded, and the fact whether or not the instrument recorded is stamped will be noted upon the record.
3. No assignment directing a patent to issue to an assignee, or assignees, dated after the 1st day of January next, unless every sheet or piece of paper, upon which such assignment shall be written, shall have affixed thereto a stamp of the value of five cents.
D. P. Holloway, Commissioner
We are happy to be able to state that a portion of the United States Patent Office, which was used for a long time as a military hospital, has recently been vacated and the patients transferred to more suitable structures for sick soldiers.
Appointments and Promotions in the Patent Office
To be Examiners -- salary $2,500 per annum: -- Dr. J.W. Jayne, of Pennsylvania; Ex-Gov. Wm. Bebb, of Tennessee; J.M. Blanchard, of Indiana; Prof. B. Hedrick, of North Carolina; J.H. Adams, of Massachusetts; Dr. Wm. C. Doane, of New York.
To be First Assistant Examiners -- salary $1,800: -- Newton Crawford, of Tennessee; W.T. Dennis, of Indiana; E. Quinn, of New Jersey; T.C. Connolly, of the District of Columbia; Ex-Gov. L.J. Farwell, of Wisconsin.
To be Second Assistant Examiner -- salary $1,600: -- Charles Rogers, of New York.
We are much gratified to be able to testify that all of the above gentlemen are abundantly qualified for the important duties assigned to them. Indeed it may be said of the appointees of the Patent Office generally, that they are men of high character, good habits, liberality of judgment, intelligence, and ability. The decisions of the Office are much more uniform than they used to be, and are, for the most part, liberal and satisfactory. Little of the old leaven of narrow-mindedness toward inventors remains; most of the few wrong and incongruous decisions may be traced to that source. Such decisions are however generally corrected by appeals to the Board of Examiners-in-chief. The Patent Office Department, take it altogether, is in a flourishing condition, and enjoys the public confidence to a degree that it never before experienced. This is undoubtedly due to the generous spirit of encouragement which so many of the officials, from the Commissioner down, are ready to extend to patentees and inventors.
Operation of the Southern Patent Office
One of the Richmond papers gives an abstract of the report of the Commissioner of Patents of the "Confederate States" for the past year: --
The report of the Commissioner of Patents, sent into Congress, explains the operations of this office during the past year.
The number of applicants during the year was one hundred and forty-seven; the number of caveats issued during the year was sixty-four; the number of patents issued during the year was seventy-five; the number of United States patents and assignments of United States patents in whole or in part, recorded and revived, one hundred and seventy-eight.
Amount of money received, $9,186.98; amount of money on hand January 1, 1862, $2,812.62; total, $11,999.60. Amount of expenditure $9,301.83; balance in Treasury $9,607.77.
The patents issued were distributed among the several states of the Confederacy as follows: --
To citizens of Virginia 20; Mississippi, 10; Alabama, 8; Georgia, 7; Louisiana, 6; Texas, 6; South Carolina, 5; North Carolina, 5; Tennessee, 5; Arkansas, 1; Florida, 1; Kentucky, 1.
The financial condition of the Southern Patent Office is superior to our own, the Commissioner having a small balance on hand. The amount of business transacted by the Richmond Patent Office is quite insignificant, but the financial exhibit shows a respectable surplus on hand. In this respect it is superior to the Washington Office, if we may believe the assertions put forth in a pamphlet now before us, which states that Commissioner Holloway asks for an appropriation of $87,520.04, to make up a deficiency for the fiscal year ending June 1863-64.
Recent Changes in the Patent Law
The patent law as it stood required applicants to pay a fee of $15 on filing their applications, and after that, in case the Commissioner decided to grant a patent, a further fee of $20. No particular time, however, was specified for the payment of the last installment; and applicants have been in the habit of allowing their cases to remain incompleted as long as they pleased, and in such great numbers that the Patent Office has been much incommoded by the practice. During the last hours of the late Congress, an amendment was adopted, which requires that the second installment of $20 shall be paid within six months of the decision; and if the applicant fails to make such payment, no patent can issue, and the invention becomes the property of the public. All inventors should remember this; and those who now have applications pending on which the fees have not been paid up, should see to it that the money is promptly remitted.
Congress also passed another amendment by which the renewal of the oath, after a rejection, is done away with. This was always a useless and troublesome requirement. We have long advocated its suppression, and are glad that a law to that effect has been adopted.
Patent Office Appropriations
The last Congress made the following appropriations for the Patent Office Department: --
For expenses of receiving, arranging and taking care of copyright books, charts, and other copyright matter -- $1,800.
For preparing illustrations and descriptions for report -- $5,000.
For finishing the saloon in the north wing of the Patent Office building, and for furnishing the same with suitable cases and accommodations for the reception and convenient exhibition of models -- $50,000.
For repairing and painting the saloon in the old portion of the Patent Office building, and for furnishing the same with suitable cases and accommodations for the reception and convenient exhibition of models -- $25,000.
An appropriation was made for printing 30,000 copies of the Patent Office Reports for the years 1861 and 1862. The plan of illustrating the reports (which rendered them so valuable) was discontinued at the close of 1860; and under an act of Congress the Commissioner of Patents undertook to print ten copies of each of the descriptions and claims of all patents and ten copies of each of the drawings. After an expenditure of $50,000 this practice was abandoned as too expensive. Congress has now authorized a continuance of the illustrated reports, as heretofore, which will include those of the years 1861 and 1862. The illustrations for these works will be done at the establishment of E.R. Jewett, of Buffalo, N.Y., who so admirably executed some of the later reports.
The Proposition to Introduce a State Patent System
We give considerable space in our present number to the publication of a bill, now pending before the Legislature of Massachusetts, to promote the progress of the useful arts; or, in other words, the Legislature of that State is solicited to enact a patent law, for the purpose of protecting inventors and introducers of useful improvements under a State patent system. The document in question is in the hands of the Judiciary Committee, and we have been asked to encourage its passage into the form of law.
At first we were inclined to regard the proposition as a practical joke; but upon looking at the document before us, it bears all the usual marks of having received preliminary legislative action. The principle objection to this scheme is, that it is a positive infraction of both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution of the United States, which confers upon Congress the sole right to enact laws for the protection of inventors and authors for a limited period. Besides this, the United States Courts have sole jurisdiction in patent causes, as well in equity as in law. This bill proposes to introduce into Massachusetts a State patent system, even in the face of those provisions of the Federal Constitution and existing laws. At this particular juncture in the history of the country we look with deep concern upon all such State legislation as tends in the least to impair the force of the national authority in respect to its supreme power. It looks very much like a return towards the defunct Confederate system, which is extremely offensive to us, as it should be to all right-minded loyal men, who desire to see the Federal authority is fully upheld.
Another feature of this bill is very objectionable, namely, that wherein it is proposed to grant an exclusive patent to the first introducer of a new invention. This plan, in our judgment, is a "bid" for a general piracy upon the rights of the true inventor, and smells too strongly of the English statutes. We cannot favor any such attempt to despoil the rightful inventor, by any possible legislation, of his paramount exclusive right to a patent for his discovery. To attempt to bring in State action, such as is proposed in the bill alluded to, would, we think, lead to much confusion and mischief in our patent system. The Patent Office at Washington is the great national repository of the fruits of the American genius; and it strikes us as injudicious and unwise to seek to institute any separate State action that will in any way tend to divert ingenuity from that central point.
We regard the proposed measure as in the highest degree fraught with mischief; and we feel confident that the Legislature of Massachusetts will not be the first to inaugurate so dangerous an innovation upon the rights of the Federal authority. It seems to us that the nation is now struggling to put down this sort of State interference with the supreme law of the land. If every loyal State should undertake to establish its own patent system, the burdens of the inventors would be vastly increased, not only in the cost of obtaining his patent, but also in defending his rights in the several State Courts. The whole thing strikes us as a ridiculous absurdity; and we trust that we shall never hear of it again.
The Massachusetts State Patent Law
[The text of the proposed act to promote the progress of the useful arts before the legislature of Massachusetts and discussed in Scientific American, vol 8 (new series), no 15, page 234, are printed at this point. However, they are not of enough interest for me to transcribe them. KWD]
The Proposition to Introduce a State Patent System
Several correspondents have written to us respecting the proposed State patent system which we briefly discussed on page 234, current volume of the Scientific American. Without going over the ground of this discussion again, we will present one or two points in the matter which seem to us not only pertinent but quite fatal to the proposed scheme.
The Constitution provides that Congress may enact laws for the protection of inventors and authors for a limited period. In pursuance of this provision a patent law has been enacted which limits the grant of Letters Patent to the original and first inventor of any new or useful improvement. This law is alike binding upon all the States; and on the trial of patent causes, the sole jurisdiction respecting their validity, etc., rests with the United States courts. It is proposed in the Massachusetts patent bill to grant Letters Patent to an introducer of another man's invention, or the introducer may also be the inventor of that for which he seeks a patent; for certainly it is not intended by this bill to withhold a patent simply because the applicant may happen to be the inventor. Now it is our opinion that this system will interfere in two ways with the Federal statutes. In the first place, if the proposed State patent law allows a patent to an inventor for a new and useful improvement, under any circumstances, it usurps the power delegated solely to Congress for that express purpose by the Constitution. In the next place, if the system allows a patent to the mere introducer of an invention made by another, it practically nullifies the Federal law, which expressly declares that no one, except the original and first inventor, shall be entitled to Letters Patent. We insist that no State has the right to enact laws which so directly fly in the face of the laws of Congress, and we say furthermore that a State patent granted to an introducer could not be maintained against an infringer on a question of law. The moment an appeal should be taken from the decision of the State courts to the Federal courts, that moment the illegality of the whole matter would be made clear to the most skeptical.
The patent laws of the United States are considered ample to protect the rights of all original inventors; and to introduce State action in this matter would open the door to expensive litigation and confusion. Besides we do not like that spirit which goes hunting through the Constitution for vague reservations in favor of States; and upon which attempts are made to build up systems of doubtful value and in seeming antagonism to the supreme law of the land. If the interests of Massachusetts are not sufficiently well protected by the existing patent law, we will cordially advocate all needed changes when pointed out to us; but this attempt to foist upon the public an independent system we consider very injudicious as well as illegal.
Secondary Government Fees on Patents
We would call the attention of patentees to the annexed amendment of the Patent Laws, enacted March 3, 1863: --
Every patent shall be dated as of a day not later than six months after the time at which it was passed and allowed, and notice thereof sent to the applicant or his agent; and if the final fee for such patent be not paid within the said six months, the patent shall be withheld, and the invention therein described shall become public property, as against the applicant therefor: Provided, that in all cases where patents have been allowed previous to the passage of this act, the said six months shall be reckoned from the date of such passage.
From the above it will be seen that it is incumbent on every patentee to pay the second Government fee within six months after a patent is allowed, or else it will become public property and the inventor will be deprived of the patent.
The Patent Office Report for 1861
In consequence of the suspension of the project for printing the patents in full, under the law of 1861, it became necessary to resume the publication of the yearly volumes of the Reports. The last volumes issued were for 1860. The resumption was only begun a short time ago, and the volume for 1861 is now in course of preparation. The drawings are being engraved by Messrs. E.R. Jewett & Co., of Buffalo, N.Y.; and from some proofs which we have seen, we can say they will be splendidly executed. If all the contractors for Government work would manifest but a tithe of the fidelity that is shown by the official labors of the above-named artists, the people would indeed be fortunate.