There are, as usual, numerous applicants for the office of Commissioner of Patents, and all, or nearly all, are Solicitors of Patents. The attorneys for several of the mowing machines are especially prominent; the sewing machine patentees have their favorites, while india-rubber is content with the present state of things. Now, all these gentlemen may be worthy and competent; but we submit that they cannot be the proper persons to pass upon such questions as come constantly before the Commissioner of Patents. It is safe to say that there are no patetit lawyers who are not pecuniarily interested in inventions, and a mere assignment of all such recorded interests would scarcely satisfy the public which sustains this important bureau of the Government. Aside from this, inventors would scarcely believe that a solicitor, who had for years been supported by the owners of a patented monopoly, would at once conquer the prejudices with which the earnest advocate is so apt to become imbued. The head of this department acts as a judge in suits of vast importance, and should be selected with a view to his judicial experience and acumen, as well as his executive ability; and not because of any part which he may have enacted in questions of priority and infringement. We fully indorse the above from the New York Times of April 9th. A Commissioner of Patents should neither be a patentee, solicitor, or patent lawyer, but a man of good executive ability, and possessed of sufficient legal experience to weigh evidence and decide promptly in all cases that come before him. To this add honesty and energy, and you have all the requisites for a good Commissioner.
This article was originally published with the title "Persons Unfitted for the Commissionership" in Scientific American 20, 17, 265 (April 1869)