In a recent case of appeal from the examiner to the Commissioner of Patents, the complaint of the in- ventor was that the examiner objected unnecessarily to the language used in the claims, and thus obstructed and delayed his application. The majority of the ex- amining officers very properly interpret their duty as lying in the direction of facilitating the inventorin ob- taining his patent, but in some of the rooms in the Patent Office a contrary theory sometimes seemti to prevail, and occasionally the practice is such that it looks as if the examiner considered his special function to quibble over words, even to the extent of delaying or defeating tin inventor. In the case above referred to, ex parte Pacholder, Mr. Commissioner Mitchell lays down very clearly the rules which should govern the Patent Office. Among other rulintrshe holds as follows : "No general rule can be laid down for governing the employment in the claims of patents of such words as ' means,' 'mechanism,' and 'appliances.' It is the object of the law, as it is the solicitude of this office, to protect inventors and guard their inventions. This ob- ject is best secured in the case of patents which repre- sent the maturity of an art by taking care that claims shall be drawn with all reasonable restrictions, so that they shall be valid in spite of everything that is con- tained in existing patents and of everything previously known or used." "In the case of patents which represent the infancy of an art or the stage of its earliest practical develop- ment, this office is solicitous that the inventor should be accorded a breadth of claim which is commensurate with the extent and importance of the invention which he desires and is entitled to protect. While the office will insist upon as much definiteness in the lan- guage of the claim as the statute calls for, it will also, if it properly discharge its function as the protector of the inventor, leave something to the salutary and be- nignant agency of construction in the courts.'1 "There is a permissible latitude of choice in the use of language which may be safely accorded to the in- ventor or his solicitor without violating the statute, and without detriment to that branch of the public service which has for its object not only to grant let- ters patent for new inventions, but to grant them at the earliest possible date."
This article was originally published with the title "Patents" in SA Supplements 29, 756supp, 402 (June 1890)