We take the following from the Report of the Secretary of the Interior, and to one of its recommendations wa enter a decided protest in the name of every inventor in tha United States. Our reasons for so doing we give below: “The increase of business in the Patent Office, and the magnitude of its operations, give additional force to the recommendations heretofore made for a re-organiea-tion of this bureau. The amount of work devolved upon tho Examiners is enormous, and it is difficult to believe that tho reiterated appeals in this behalf would have been so entirely disregarded, had Congress realized the actual condition of the business of the office ; and as tha offiep is self-sustaining, it is only reasonable that this department should be empowered to graduate the force employed hy the work to bo done, provided always that the expenditures shall be kept within the receipts. I taka occasion to renew the recommendation of previous reports in regard to the anomaly of allowing appeals from tho Commissioner of Patents to one of the three district judges. In addition to the reasons urged in my first annual report for an alteration of the law in this particular, it is to be observed that as each judge acts separately upon the appeal taken, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible to maintain uniformity and certainty in the execution of the patent laws. The income of tho office for the three quarters ending September 30, I860, was $197,648.40, and its expenditure, $180,672.23, showing a surplus of $7,576.17. During this period, 5,638 applications for patents have bean received, and 841 caveats filed; 3,612 applications have been rejected, and 3,896 patents issued, including re-issues, additional improvements and dsigna. In addition to this, there have been 49 applications for extensions, and 28 patents have been extended for a period of 7 years from the expiration of their first term." The recommendation of tho Secretary of the Interior to which we object relates to repealing the law which permits applicants for patents to appeal from decisions of tho Patont Office to judges in the District of Columbia. Two statements are made as affording causes for the repeal of the statute ; to these we will make a brief argument, and we aro confident that the Secretary of the Interior himself, by a further examination of the subject, will change his sentiments on this question. It is stated that the present system of appeals is an anomaly. We consider that it is not so ; that it is simply n safeguard against unjust decisions in the Patent Office, and is a very proper method of obtaining redress to inventors. Abqlish such a system, and the method of deciding upon all applications for patents would become an anomaly indeed, in a free country. In constitutional monarchies and republics, we require checks upon hasty legislation and the decisions of courts ; hence our compound houses of legislation and our courts of appeal. Would it not be unjust, would it not bean anomalyin our form of government, were the actions of the Patent Office m.ide an exception to such wise customs and modes of procedure ? Certainly this would be the case, and yet this is what the Secretary of the Interior recommends. Again, the repeal of the statute is recommended because the Secretary states that it is " almost impossible K> maintain uniformity and certainty in the execution of the patent laws." We think this statement is unwarranted, but even if the repeal solicited wa effected, it would not mend tho matter, but rather increase the evil. Jaatiee to inventors and the publie is the first object to which we should look in all cases. The right of appeal in the District Courts is for the very purpose of securing this justice, and we do not know of a single reversal of a Patent Office decision which did not secure that object. Surely the Secretary of the Interior does not mean to defeat the means of obtaining justice to inventors, under the guise of obtaining uniformity of decisions. If the infallibility of the Patent Office officials could be guaranteed, then the reform solicited might be claimed with a good grace, not otherwise ; without such a guarantee, the present system should remain as it is-We are confident that were the present method of appeals abolished, the Patent Office would become a petty despotism. During the last session of Congress, when the patent bill was up for discussion in the House of Representatives, its further consideration was postponed until the second Wednesday of this month. As this bill contains the provision recommended by the Secretary of the Interior, we trust that the friends of inventors in the House will see that it is struck out and condemned as unnecessary and unjust.
This article was originally published with the title "Patent Laws and the Patent Office" in Scientific American 3, 25new, 394 (December 1860)