We publish elsewhere an extract from the Report of the Secretary of the Interior, giving a brief resume of the operations of the Patent Office for the past year. The financial result appears to be gratifying. The applications have been very numerous, and the fees, in excess of expenditures some $213,920. The Secretary proposes to use this surplus in printing copies of the drawings—a suggestion which is very good so far as it goes ; but we should have experienced additional pleasure if the Secretary had urged upon Congress the importance of reducing the patent fee. The Patent Office is a self-sustaining institution, and can be kept so by a judicious administration of its affairs and upon a reduced scale of fees. We should say that $25 were amply sufficient —$10 payable in advance, and the balance, $15, upon the allowance of the claims. We hope " Commissioner Fisher, in his Annual Report, will take hold of this matter and urge a reduction of the costs of granting patents. Patent office Affairs. The report of the Secretary of the Interior furnishes the following interesting facts concerning the Patent Office : Application for Patents..............................19,360 Caveats filed........................................ 3,686 Applications for extension........................... 153 Patentsissued......................................13,762 Patents extended............................. ..... 125 Patents allowed, not issued.......................... 899 Balance appropriation on hand Oct. 1,1868.......$117,249-18 Appropriation since made....................... 722,018'00 Total.............................$839,267-18 Expenditures since Oct. I,lb68..................$472,462-62 Balance on hand............................... 416,804-53 Fees in excess of expenditures................... 213,926-02 Expenditures in excess of fees, 1863.............. 171-64 Appropriation asked for........................ 564,420-00 The office now publishes a weekly list of claims, which is furnished to subscribers at $5 per annum. It is believed that by the e asuing year the receipts will cover the entire cost of the work. This list, published simultaneously with the issue of the patents, serves all the purposes of the annual report, which is not issued until two years later. In order that the public and the examining corps may have access to the drawings of the Office, I recommend an appropriation for printing copies. The expense so occasioned can be reimbursed, if the Commissioner be authorized to make sale of them, and apply so much of -the proceeds thereof as may be necessary. If ho could sell copies of the patents and of the drawings at cheap rates to those who desire them, and place copies in the State capitals and great commercial cen ters, more complete information of the action of the bureau than is now furnished, by the report would be promptly disseminate 1, and an annual expenditure of $200,000 of the public money avoided. My immediate predecessor, in each of his annual reports, urged the repeal of all laws which authorized an appeal from the decision of the Commissioner of Patents on applications for letters patent and in interference cases. The reasons he presented are, in my opinion, clear and unanswerable. It is, indeed, believed that it was the intention of Congress to abolish such an appeal by the set of 1861. No mention is made of it in the provision for appeals, or in the-new schedule of fees thereby established. It has, however, Deen held that [prior acts which authorized such an appeal are still in force, and that the right thereto still exists. If their purpose was to secure uniformity in the administration of the patent laws, it has signally failed. The appellants may select either of the four members of the Supreme Court of the District to hear and determine the case, and from his decision no appeal lies to the court in banc. The Commissioner, in a paper addressed to me, represents that, as a natural consequence of the appeal and of the fee claimed for acting upon it, the judges have, without authority from Congress, assumed to extend their jurisdiction to his purely ministerial duties, and to interfere with the discharge of them. Decisions have been made on the proper date of letters patent, the allowance of amendments, the issue of double patents to an inventor and his assignee, and on other questions of a like character. The practical working of this asserted supervisory control over the doings of the Commissioner has been, upon the whole, injurious. Consistency of decisions and of administration has not been attained. Controversies and litigation as to the extent of relative jurisdiction have arisen, and the usefulness of the Office, in its attempts to protect the public against imposi-i on has been essentially impaired. Sheepskin Mats. A correspondent of The Country Cfentleman gives the following directions for making beautiful sheepskin mats, the rec-pe being for two skins. " Make strong soapsuds, using hot water, and let it stand till cold, then wash the skins in it, carefully squeezing out all the dirt from among the wool, then wash them in cold water till all the soap is out. Next dissolve half a pound each of salt and alum in a little hot water, and put into a tub of cold water sufficient to cover the skins and let them soak twelve hours, then hang over a pole to drain. When well drained, stretch carefully on a board to dry. Stretch several times while drying. Before they get entirely dry, sprinkle on the flesh side one ounce each of finely pulverized alum and saltpeter' rubbing it in well ; then lay the flesh sides to-gether and hang in the shade for two or three days, turning thew over every day till perfectly dry. " Finish by scraping the flesh side with a blunt knife, to remove any remaining scraps of flesh, and then rub the flesh side with pumice or rotten stone and the hands. Very beautiful mittens can be made of lamb skins tanned as above." Tlie Cienesls. Professor Agassiz denies that he, as has been publicly charged, recently opened a lecture with the statement that he wanted no one to listen to his lectures who believed in the first chapter of" Genesis." This charge bears on its face the evidence of its falsity, yet Professor Agassiz deems it worthy of notice. He says in a letter to a friend : " I am little in the habit of noticing things of this kind, being convinced that often it is useless, and having become from long habit somewhat callous to misrepresentation. Something in the tone of your letter makes me answer, and unwilling to leave it unanswered, I write to say that the statement you sent me is false. In some opening remarks of a course on geology, which I am now delivering in the University, I said that the ' theological interpretation of the Book of Genesis, giving six thousand years as the age of the world, was a hindrance to the understanding of geological evidence, and no one who started with this idea, and allowed his researches to be influenced by it, could be a geologist.' I do not remember my exact words, the lecture being extemporaneous ; but this is the substance, and I know that I did not say what your newspaper extract reports." THE LEVEL OP THE MEDITERRANEAN AND EED SEAS.— During the celebrated Egyptian campaign of 1798, the difference of level between these two seas was calculated by the French engineers, and found to beO'85 of a meter. The result obtained in making the survey for the construction of the Suez canal, in 1866, was -86 of a meter. The accuracy of the earlier survey is very strikingly confirmed by the close coin cidence of these results. A VALUABLE PRESENT.—What more useful present can be made to young mechanics than a year's subscription to the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN? Employers will be doing their employes a great service by acting on this hint, and we feel sure -that at the end Of the year they will consider the investment a good one.
This article was originally published with the title "Reduce the Cost of Patents" in Scientific American 21, 26, 406 (December 1869)