We have received and now present to our readers an abstract of the Patent bill proposed by Messrs. Taylor and Chaffee. Want of space prevents us from publishing the entire bill, which is of great length, but we will endeavor to give the pith of all the most important changas desired to be effected by it. SECTION I prescribes the duties of the Commissioner of Patents, and gives him entire control of the granting and issuing of patents and also the custody of all the books, records, papers, models, machines, and all other things belonging to the Patent Office, independent of all interference or control from any other department, and fixes his salary at $4,500 a year. By this arrangement the Secretary of the Interior will no longer control the action of the Commissioner of Patents, who will be responsible only to the President. This is a very desirable change, and one that we have long advocated. SECTION II gives to the President of the United States power to appoint a Board of three Examiners-in-Chief composed of persons of competent legal and scientific knowledge and ability, whose terms of office shall be during good behavior. The duty of this Board is to determine on the appropriateness of the references made by other Examiners, in all cases of application for patents, extensions, or interferences, and to perform such other duties as may be assigned to them by the Commissioner. Appeals from the decisions of this Board may be taken up to the Commissioner in person, whose action shall be final in all cases. We believe it was the original.intention of one of the authors of this bill to compel the President to constitute this Board of the three of the oldest Examiners in the Patent Office, whose fingers may have been in the framing of this bill; but in consequence of the recent removal of some of these old Examiners, it no longer suits the purposes of these great patent law reformers to advocate that mode of selection. This whole scheme is designed to cripple the power of the Commissioner, by preventing him from selecting such men as, in his judgment, are best qualified to carry out any system calculated to promote the best interests of the Office, and all those who have business with it. No matter how incompetent this Board might prove to be, no matter how obstinate in refusing to grant the claims of inventors upon a mere show of justice, no matter how much it might do in an underhanded way to embarrass the action of the Commissioner, the members are made secure in the enjoyment of their office and its emoluments in spite of the Commissioner, and even of the President himself, who seems to have no power in the bill to remove them. Only let them maintain a good external behavior, there they live and there they die. We do not believe that Congress will lend its sanction to any such monstrous scheme as the above. Let the Commissioner himself have the power to say who shall constitute this Board of Examiners-in-Chief. He is entitled to this privilege, and there is no reason why he should not have it. SECTIOS III provides that the salary of each of the Chief-Examiners shall be $3,000 per annum, and gives the President povTer to designate one member of the aforesaid Board to act as Commissioner of Patents during the absence of the latter, and to perform all and every duty assigned to the Commissioner during such vacancy. Here is another attempt to throttle the independent action of the Commissioner. It seems as if these patent nurses are determined to hedge about the Commissioner in such a manner as to counteract, if need be, all his previous policy whenever sickness or the necessity of recreation rendered his temporary absence necessary, and schemes might be put through totally at variance with his views, yet for which he would have no remedy. Patents might be legally extended, on a system of favoritism, which the Commissioner himself would think proper to refuse. In the first place, the President does not desire to exercise such an authority, for he has cares enough already ; and, in the next place, we maintain that it should be vested only in the Commissioner, as he is the most proper person to exercise it, and he should be _ kept responsible for the actions of the entire \ Office as at present. SECTION IV authorizes the President to appoint twenty-four Examiners at an annual salary of $2,500 each. It also provides for a Head Clerk at $2,000 ; a Disbursing Clerk at $1,800 ; a Draughtsman, Machinist, and Librarian at $1,600 each ; a clerk to frank letters, documents, and "other matter," at $1,000, &c. All of the above clerks are to be appointed by the Commissioner. This is a very pretty scheme indeed, and if carried out to its full extent, it would make the Patent Office a gigantic hospital for the support and nourishment of sick politicians. We contend that the Patent Office should be entirely above and kept free from political party influence ; it is an institution designed for an entirely different purpose, and the sole test to be applied in the selection of each Examiner should be the doctrine set down by Jefferson—"Is he honest ? Is he capable to discharge the duties laid upon liim ? " The political design of this scheme is apparent from the fact that it provides for the appointment of a clerk to frank " letters, documents, and other matter," without specifying what this "other matter" shall be. We hope no such system will be sanctioned by Congress ; for it would debase the Patent Office from its original purpose, and render it subservient to political party designs. SECTION VI provides that any person making application can obtain certified copies of the records, drawings, and other papers deposited in the Patent Office, on payment for them. Under the present law, caveats and pending applications for patents are considered confidential communications, and therefore copies cannot be obtained. But under the proposed bill, no exceptions of this kind are provided for. Really, these are beautiful reforms ! SECTION VII authorizes the Commissioner to restore to applicants, or, when not removed by them, otherwise dispose of, all models of rejected applications and also models accompanying applications for designs. Under a strict construction of this section, without specifying rejected and withdrawn applications, the Commissioner, should he see fit to do so, could make a bonfire of many ingenious models before the applicant could have time to make an appeal after his case was rejected. Yet we approve of the object contemplated in this section, viz., the disposal of models of finally rejected and withdrawn applications ; and as to models of designs, none should be required. SECTION IX contains a clause that provides that, if the specification or drawings of any patent has been on file at the Patent Office for more than two years previous to the date of the proposed issuing of a patent, it shall not be granted. This is a very singular proviso indeed, and if an inventor should be so unfortunate as to have his papers misplaced—thrown into a wrong "pigeon hole" at the Patent Office—which is sometimes the case, he must suffer the consequences, and thereby lose his right to receive a patent, if by such misplacement a period longer than the specified time should elapse before the discovery ofthe error, and thus the unfortunate applicant is made the victim of official carelessness. Such cases are quite liable to occur, yet no remedy is provided to meet them. Again, the business of the Office is sometimes so great that applications cannot be examined and decided as fast as they come in. Under such circumstances, delay necessarily ensues. Formerly it was quite common for applicants to be kept waiting for a year and a half before the Office could take up their cases, and sometimes more than two years elapsed before a decision was reached. SECTION X provides that the Commissioner shall cause to be made "a fair, sound and discriminating examination of all applications, so that the inventor shall have a good title to his property in the invention, and that the community shall not part with that which clearly belongs to it." Examiners are to search for such references as bear upon the claim, and place the same before the Board of Examiners-in-Chief, who will grant the patent, if, on examination, it shall appear to be new in this country, or has not been patented or described in any printed publication in this or any foreign country, or has not been in public use or on sale, with the applicant's consent, prior to the application for a patent. If the Board deny the grant of a patent, such deliial shall be final, unless the Commissioner shall reverse the decision and grant a patent "which shall be final." " Really," say we, in the language of Jack Bunsby " here is wisdom ! " If the Commissioner grants the patent, "it is final," or, in other words, if he issues a patent to an inventor, the latter need have no further apprehension that his application will bt rejected. "The King ot France, with twiceten thousand men, Marched up the hill, and then—marched do\Q fligain.' ' But what becomes of our present dignified Board of Examiners ? They are to be transformed into a company of sappers and miners to lay open the trenches of dusty records, and carry the result of their researches, like so many pack mles, before the most august Board in, the " Star Chamber." And the learned Mr. Taylor says that all this is to oppose " the indiscriminate granting of patents !" The discovery of the existence of such a system is original to the member from Kings county (N. Y.) ; and we advise him to secure a patent for his wonderful discovery, immediately after his proposed bill becomes a law. Commissioner Holt, in his Annual Report, informs us that 1,861 cases were rejected last year, and we have been told similar stories by previous Commissioners ; but it now turns out, under the astute optics of these new legislative lights, that the system of issue is indiscriminate ! If it be really so, it is high time that the Patent Office should be afflicted by just such a bill as is here proposed. We are also told in this section that the applicant must not allow his invention to be sold or put into public use before he makes his application ; but in another clause of the' bill, (see Section 26,) his rights shall not be prejudiced unless the sale or prior use has been for more than two years prior to such' application. Now, put this and that together, and we have another proof of the wisdom of "the bill as proposei by Dr. Chaffee and myself," to use the language of Mr. Taylor. If an inventor wishes to publish his invention, for the purpose of enlisting capitalists to aid him in bringing it forward, it is tho purpose of the proposed bill to deprive him of the right to take a patent for it afterward. Inventors ! are you prepared to have your rights fostered and protected in this manner ? SECTION XI relates to the question of priority of invention in interfering cases, and gives the Commissioner power to decide in relation thereto. But nothing in the act shall be construed so as to deprive the original inventor of his right to Letters Patent, by reason of his having taken Letters Patent in a foreign country, and the same having been published at any time within six months preceding the filing of his application. Here's wisdom too ! It now seems that, if the invention has been published at any time within six months previous to his application, the law shall not be construed to prevent the inventor from securing a patent. Gentlemen, what do you mean by these twists and turns in regard to the publication and use of inventions ? Do you mean to say that an invention must not be publish'ed nor used before an application is made for a patent ? That it may be published at any time within six months preceding the application ? And that the sale and use must not be for more than two years prior to such application ? We are in a fog on this subject, and move the appointment of a committee of investigation. SECTION XII raises the fee on applying for a patent to $50, no part of which is returned if the application is rejected. Fees to foreigners are reduced to $50, also the same as to our citizens. It is highly desirable that the fees charged should be the same to all applicants, irrespective of their birthplace. But to raise the fee to our citizens to $50 is more than equivalent to doubling the present rates. Such policy is suicidal. Hundreds of poor inventors would be debarred from taking out patents. The only necessity for raising the fees appears to be to support the fresh host of lazy officials which the bill creates. It is, no doubt, advisable to do away with the trouble of returning any of the fees. This can be easily done, and would increase the revenue of the Office as much as the present system requires. The cheaper we can afford to issue patents the better. The true policy is to invite and encourage genius; not paralyze it by heaping up the expenses. We believe that the fee for applying for a patent should be fixed at $20, with no return if rejected. If a patent is allowed, then $10 additional should be paid. SECTION XVII is a long-winded, senseless mess of stuff in regard to proceedings in actions for damages in cases of infringement. It hints at justification to those who infringe patents ; indicates a reason why a patent should not be void on account of a previous invention, if such invention be unknown to the patentse ; and says that a patent shall be deemed good and valid for such of the inventor's discovery as shall be really and truly his own, provided it shall be a material and substantial part of the thing patented, and be definitely distinguished from the other part so claimed.—A very nice point upon which some of our astute patent attornies would bother our courts and juries most wofuUy ! SECTION XVIII gives the Commissioner full power to extend patents, as he has heretofore enjoyed, and requires a fee of $100 on each such application for extension ; and if it shall appear to the full and entire satisfaction of the Commissioner that it is just and proper that the patent should be extended by reason of those who are now, and those who have been, interested therein, without neglect or fault on their part, having failed to obtain reasonable remuneration, the Commissioner will make a certificate of extension for a term of seven years. Here is the snake in the grass. Instead of the inventor obtaining the extension of his invention for the benefit of himself, those who have been interested therein can come forward and figure the extension through for their own advantage, leaving the original inventor entirely on a lee shore. This is " protecting the inventor" with a vengeance. By a system of sharp practice under this clause of the law, many an honest im'cntor will be robbed of a right which common humanity, to say nothing of justice, would demand in his behalf. SECTION XXI is a provision in relation to conflicting patents. It is a mud hole, and we prefer not to dabble in it. In subsequent sections the usual provisions are made to restrain alleged violations of patents by injunction ; penalties are imposed for counterfeiting the name or patented articles of a patentee ; and patentees are required to stamp or engrave on each article vended or offered for sale, the word "patented," under a penalty of .$100 for every omission ; but the date of the patent is not required to be engraved thereon, which is an essential and very important feature, and exists under the present law. Provisions are also made for foreign inventors to introduce and patent their inventions here on the same terms specified in the law now in force, with the exception of the reduction of fees to the standard of citizens. SECTION XXVI protects persons or corporations who shall have purchased any new invention and the right to use and vend to others to use the specific thing so made or purchased, without liability to any other person ; and no patent shall be held to be invalid by reason of such purchase, sale, or use, prior to the application for a patent as aforesaid, except on proof of abandonment of such invention to the public, or that such purchase, sale or prior use has been for more than two years prior to such application for a patent. See our remarks under Section XI. SECTIONS XXVII, XXVIII, and XXIX provide for the refunding of any money paid into the Patent Office by mistake, give the Commissioner power to make all such rules and regulations in respect to the taking of evidence to be used in contested cases before him as may be just and reasonable ; and authorize him to employ, from time to time, as many temporary clerks as may be necessary to execute the copying and draughting required by this act. We have now gone over the entire bill, and, with the exception of the_ celebrated "patent rat-trap" bill invented by Senator James, some years ago, we have never met with any attempt at patent legislation so stupidly senseless. With few exceptions it is a mass of wind and verbiage ; and but for a sense of our responsibility as journalists and to that large class of our fellow-citizens whose interests are so deeply-concerned in this matter, and whose rights we esteem it a privilege to defend, wo should not encumber our columns with it.
This article was originally published with the title "Abstract of the New Patent Bill" in Scientific American 13, 25, 198 (February 1858)