For the honor and fair fame of an inventor, independent of any pecuniary advantages to be derived from his invention, his duty to himself and his friends, is to secure his invention by patent as soon as possible. He should not delay, but make haste to deposit the proots of bis invention or discovery in the archives of the Patent Office. It is not an uncommon thing for men to rise up—or to have others rise up for them—and claim that they are the inventors of such and such improvements, while at the same time they have been indebted to others for everything that is worth claiming. Modest, merit is often trodden under foot by presumptuous selfishness, but there is a way open for every inventor to protect his fame in the face of the whole world, and that is by depositing the proofs of his invention in the place provided by the laws of our country for that! purpose. There is much brazen effrontery in this world, and those who deserve honor are not only often deprived of receiving it, but have the mortification of seeing mercenary adventurers awarded the prizes which they should have received. It was easy for others to cross the Atlantic in large ships and fleets after Columbus in his frail bark had showed them the way, and had there been no record left of his discoveries, the means by which he was robbed of giving a name to our continent, tell us that the intrepid sailor of Genoa would now be unknown as the discoverer of the New World. It is now but a short time since the late Chancellor of England, moved to the very depths of their hearts, with his impassioned eloquence, the Commoners in Parliameit, by his funeral oration at the death of the " Iron Duke." But the eloquence was stolen from another, and the record—the undeniable proof was drawn forth to confront the elevated plagiarist. It is the same with some inventions which have been patented; when a boasting braggart comes up and claims that he has done what no man did before, and the gaping multitude runs after him, shouting " great is Diana of* tfie Ephesians," the patent record of the invention is always incontestible proof to vanquish the selfishness, the pride and the vaunting of the upstart. For a while, the just rights of the real inventor may be overlooked in the heat and the fervor of an excitement; and there are men in every community, who, because they never heard of such a thing before, will not believe it (such is the morbid nature of some minds,) although the proof is'presented to them in lines of the fairest character. But truth is always triumphant at last, when we can obtain evidence of it. We are only speaking about robbing inventors of their just claims, and awarding fame and honor to wilful wrong-doers. There is nothing more detestable than to hear invention pirates i and their panderers defend themselves by such arguments as " oh yes, Watt, Fulton, Morse, &c, and all great inventors, had just such enemies as we have, there were men who claimed their inventions as there are men who now claim ours;" yes, we answer, and those pirates who opposed the just claims ot Watt and other true inventors, used just the same arguments as you do. Every invention con- ? troversy, must be judged upon its own merits, j for every case has not a parallel. To prevent all controversy on the subject of inventions—the priority of discovery—there is ample means provided by our patent laws. This is the only true and proper way to provide against i piracy, and inventors who do not fortify themselves with proof of their inventions against all future claimants, do injustice to themselves and relatives. When a man claims to have invented such and such Improvements some years ago, we ask for his proof, and if he can- ! not show it by patent or in print, his claims cannot receive the least attention. There are many inventors who invent ] what others have invented before them years ago, when proof of this is produced, we mean I honest legal proof, all are satisfied, and there is no room left for controversy; but we hate to , hear men—when others have brought out an B. invention—claiming it as their's, and bring ing forth for proof, some six year old obscure conversations with others upon the subject. Away with such claimants; five us solid proof of your invention, and that is, " the patent you obtained for it." It is a good thing that we have patent laws, if they served no other purpose than furnishing evidence of the genius of our inventors, and for affording proof to place laurel wreaths on the brows of the right men. To our inventors, we say, ponder well what we have said. The man who invents a useful improvement, whereby human toil is abridged, deserves a niche in the temple of fame, for he hath not lived in vain ; " his life hath not been spilt in water." He should, as we have said before, in duty to himself, his relatives and descendants, leave no doubt resting upon the title of his invention, since without controversy, provision is made for this object by our patent laws.
This article was originally published with the title "Inventors Secure your Inventions" in Scientific American 8, 21, 165 (February 1853)