As Congress will soon assemble again, we conceive ifc to be our duty at this time, to direct the attention of our people to the reform of our patent laws. Our attention has also been specially called to this subject by the " Model Courier," Philadelphia, which speaks of the present laws as affording every means f or the patent pirate to use a patented invention and contest the right of the patentee to the same, by money gained from the very machine of which he has robbed the inventor. It is well known to our readers that a bill for reforming the Patent Laws passed the Senate during the past winter, and was sent down to the House of Representatives, and that it was afterwards recalled by nearly a unanimous vote, because a most glaring and iniquitous clause legalizing the actions of the Chief Clerk had been introduced into it, if not surreptitiously, at least it almost amounted to that. Congress adjourned, although the session was a very long one, without passing the bill, and we are glad that it did so, for it will allow of a closer scrutiny being given to all the clauses of it, and the addition of new ones that may be required. One great evil which should be remedied is the expensive and tedious mode of bringing cases to a conclusion in our United States Courts. No poor inventor can contest his patent with a wealthy infringer. We would recommend that a clause be introduced, making it the duty of government which grants a patent, to prosecute through the U. S. District Attorneys those who infringe patents; and that in every district where a jury trial is prayed for by the defendant, whoever he may be, that it at once be granted. This will bring the case to a focus very soon, and prevent such India rubber extension cases, as was exhibited in the famous dilatory, wandering, and singular India rubber case of Goodyear versus Day. We want to see the old tedious-and expensive modes of obtaining justice in our courts of law simplified, and made common-sense-like and economical. We beat all creation in going ahead with machine inventions, but we certainly are in great want of an invention to render prompt justice in cases of patent infringement, for assuredly while we travel by steam and talk with lightning, our U. S. Courts, with whom the settlement of patent cases is left for adjudication, are content to move along slowly and grand in the old-fashioned mule-drawn carria ges of checks J delays, put-offs, embarrassments, and weighty purses. We also advocate prompt justice to a defendant ; let all stand equal before the scales of justice. He should have the right to sue out a writ of scire facias to repeal a fraudulent patent, but then all patent cases should be acted upon promptly, so as to cause as little expense to both parties as possible. There are two reforms which are imperatively demanded in our patent laws, that are not embraced in the bill left over by the last Congress. One is to return the model, as well as two-thirds of the lees of an applicant who withdraws his claims; the other is to afford an easy means to appeal from the decision of the Patent Ofidce, and a return of the fees to the applicant if he is successful. By the present law and regulations of the Patent Ofiice, no rejected applicant gets back his model; it is retained in the Patent Ofidce and although it may have cost $200, the applicant loses it, or the whole of his fee. Ten dollars is enough to pay all the expenses of a rejected applicant, and if his model is similar to an older one in the Patent Office, what in the name of common sense is the use of retaining it ? to the applicant it may be of practical use; to the aPtent Ofidce none whatever. When the application for a patent is rejected, the applicant can appeal from the decision of the Commissioner to the District Judge of the District of Columbia, or to his assistants, but he " must first deposit $25, and pay the whole of the expenses, whether tle final decision shall be in his favor or not." In all i common courts of law, the person who stands' in the way of justice—the one who loses the case, pays the expenses, but it is. altogether a different kind of justice which rules between inventors and the Patent Ofiice. We want an alteration in the law which will throw the expense upon the Patent Ofiice if it loses the case, and upon the applicant if he loses the case; this we consider even-handed justice. We hope that the committees of patents in the Senate and House ofRepresentatives will give these suggestions their attention. Above all evils, however, connected with our patent laws, the expensive modes ot obtaining decisions in our U. S. District Courts are the mill stones which hang around the necks of inventors.
This article was originally published with the title "Reform of the Patent Laws" in Scientific American 8, 10, 77 (November 1852)