I see by an article in your paper of the 22d ult., that the Telegraph Case, in the Supreme Court, has been decided against Prof. Morse, and you comment at some length on the sup posed decision. The iact is, that, so far from this case having been decided, its decision has been deferredto the next term. In another case, the Court has decided that an abstract principle is not patentable, as all other courts have before decided, and have gone so far—mdash;three out of eight judges dissent ing, as to say, that a new principle, made use ful by well known means, cannot be secured by a patent, because, where there is nothing patentable in the means, the patent would be for the principle only. But they have not gone so far, and I predict never will, as to de cide that where a party has discovered a new $rim%to, art, or result, and has rendered it useful to society by means of his own inven tion, he cannot secure the principle, art, or result, through a patent for his new means or machinery. Indeed, I have no doubt our Supreme Court will go, if they have not gone in the late case, as far as the English courts : those courts, from the lowest to the highest, have decided that I where a party has discovered a new principle,; and has made it in any degree useful by means of his own invention, he may, by a patent for those means, but declaring that he does not confine himself to the means described, se cure the principle, though, in the language of the case itself," it included every mode of ap plying the principle or agent so as to produce the specified result, although one mode may not be described more than another—mdash;although one mode may be infinitely better than ano ther—mdash;although much greater benefit would re sult from the application of the principle by one method than by another—mdash;although ona method may be much less expensive than an other ; and this generality of claim, that is, for all modes of applying the principle to the purpose specified, according to or within a ge neral statement of the object to be obtained, and of the use to be made of the agent to be so applied, is no objection whatever to the pa tent." And why not? Is not he who discovers a principle, and renders it valuable to society, or produces an entirely new result from a known principle, the most useful and meritorious of all inventors? And should the law permit another, who would never have thought of the subject but for my discovery (which may be used in a thousand modes), to come in and take it from me by a new mode ? But my purpose was not to go into an arga-' ment. In justice to Prof. Morse and the cause of truth, I solicit an insertion ot this commu- nication in your paper. AMOS KENDALL. i Washington, D. C, Feb. 2,1853. | [We are happy to receive any communica tion in correction of an error. It was tele graphed to our papers here that the U. S. Su preme Court had decided that " an art was not patentable ;" and we were informed, on inquiry, next day, that this related to the Co- luwbian Instrument. This was an error, as no such decision was made, but, as stated by Mr. Kendall, the Supreme Court has decided that an " abstract principle " is not patentable —mdash;such an one as " an art is not patentable—mdash;a result independent of the means of producing ' it." This was the light in which we viewed the subject. Our language was—mdash;" The deci-' sioi> of the lower court was to the effect that " a patent covered an art." This decision has been reversed by the Supreme Court—mdash;its de cision is,'an art is not patentable.'" Such a decision could not, in our view, be consider ed " against Morse," for if a wrong decision were made in his favor, the reversion of that decision only restored the injured inventor's rights, but did not deprive Morse of his. We have a \ery high opinion of Prot. Morse's in vention, and we hope that neither Mr. Ken dall, nor any other other person, entertains the idea that any personal object or feeli::g?lnflu-ence us. We have always defended what, in our view, appeared to be the real invention of Prot. Morse. We consider that the word art, as employed by many legal gentlemen, em braces the "abstract principle" spoken of above ; it was thus employed by Judge Kane. This is the light in which we viewed' it on page 67, last volume of the Sci, American. So far as it relates to the new principle re ferred to by Mr. Kendall, we must say the term has too indefinite a meaning; but about the decision of the English Courts, we believe we can throw such light upon the subject as will tend to support the views we have al ways expressed on the subject. On the 2nd and 3rd of December, 1852, a case for infringement of patent was tried be fore Chief Baron Pollock, for an infringement ol a rotary pump patent, the parties being Tetly vs. Easton and Amos. The Chief Baron,in sum ming up the case, said, " The modern practice of interpreting a specification differs from that which formerly prevailed ; if it be intelligi ble to workmen, though not logically correct, so long as no doubt exists of the meaning of the patentee, the specification is good, but we are bound to oppose the grasp of things not in thelhtef of the inventor. The policy of an inventor, is to ask for a patent for what he has invented, and not to fence himself with wide claims." These views of Baron Pollock are sound and to the point; we say no more.
This article was originally published with the title "Principles of Patents" in Scientific American 8, 22, 170 (February 1853)