The Commisioner of Patents has just given a decision in a case involving the question as to the date to be borne by patents which have been patented in foreign countries. The case on which the decision is given is the application of James Cochrane for the correction of the date of letters patent granted to him March 31, 1.857, for an improved fluid meter. Cochrane obtained letters patent in England and also in the United States. The English letters patent were dated November 19, 1855, when the provisional specification was filed. They were sealed May 19, 1856. A caveat was filed in the U. S. Patent Office November 7, 1855, but application for the letters patent was not made until Nov. 5,185G. The patent was granted March 31, 1857, but was limited to “fourteen years from the 19th day of November, 1855.” The applicant now claims that the American patent should bear date from the day it was issued, and asks the correction of an assumed clerical error. The Commissioner says : The motion presents several interesting questions. 1st. Can the mistake if it exists be corrected as a clerical error ? 2d. Was there an error in limiting the American pate1'tt to fourteen years from November 19, 1855 ? 3d. If there was an error what is the proper limitation of the term of the letters patent ? After examining the first question and quoting quite a number of authorities, he arrives at the conclusion that it could never have been the intention of the Legislature to restrict the correction of errors to those enumerated. Accordingly it has been the practice of the office to correct all errors in parties' names titles, dates, and all omissions or insertions of words made by the fault of the office upon a surrender of the patent without fee, but to require the patentee when seeking the correction of his own mistakes to pay the fee and conform to the provisions made for cases of reissue.
This article was originally published with the title "Interesting Patent Decision When Does an English Patent Take Date?" in Scientific American 21, 17, 266-267 (October 1869)