It is beyond contradiction, and a point conceded by inventors of all nations, tliat our system of granting patents is tlie best tliat lias ever been devised. Under its benign influence tlie inventive genius of our citizens has been developed to a marvelous extent ; and not only our own country but the world has been wonderfully benefited by the resultant discoveries. The electric telegraphs of America are adopted by almost every civilized nation ; her reapers cut their waving fields of grain ; her fleet-winged clippers carry their goods ; her lightning presses print their news ; her many-mouthed fire-arms settle their disputes. It may be truly said that the inventions of our citizens constitute one of the prominent national glories of the United States. Now, all this activity and inventive vigor, which so characterizes our people, has been drawn out and stimulated by the wise system of patent laws which have for so many years been in vogue among us. Every year has seemed to demonstrate, more than before, the practical escellence and value of the existing system. Never was the public more assisted and benefited by inventors, or so well satisfied with the patent laws, as now. Never were inventors so well rewarded for their mental toil as at present. Many of them have risen, within a brief space of time, from a condition of abject poverty to be millionaires, and the wielders of immense pecuniary influences. We look around, with astonishment, upon numbers of individuals who, when we began our humble labors in the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, were poor but aspiring inventors. The patent laws have been the means of filling their coffers with wealth, and of making the whole land to ring with applause for their ingenuity. Such fruits are gratifying to every patriot. He feels and knows that each new invention increases the power and augments the prosperity of the country ; he is desirous that inventions should multiply, and that inventors should be suitably rewarded. Notwithstanding the almost universai satisfaction with which the present patent system works—notwithstanding its glorious fruits, both past and present—notwithstanding its generally conce led superiority to any other code in the world, there is still a clique of ignorant, inconsiderate persons who are constantly plotting its injury. They cannot possibly let well enough alone. Of late years, scarcely a single session of Congress has passed without the exhibition of some such misguided attempt. We present the latest example of these miserable efforts in another part of this paper, where we have undertaken the task of its dissection. The paternity of this bill is credited to the Hon. Dr. Chaffee, M.C., of Massachusetts, and the Hon. George Taylor, M.C., of Kings county, N. Y. Dr. Chaffee was a member of the ever memorable Patent Committee who so valiantly resisted the extension of the Woodworth patent after the extension was rendered impossible by the expiration of the grant. While there was a chance for the extension to pass, he was carefully silent. The present bill savors but little, however, of the doctor's cookery. The section in regard to extensions, which has for its object the perpetuation of patents in the hands of rich monopolists, is supposed to have been carved by him, and that is about all. The Hon. Mr. Taylor is understood to be the head accoucheur of the remainder. He calls it his "new" Patent bill ; but in reality it presents no novel features ; the most noticeable thing about it is the stupidity with which it emasculates the clear and terse language of the present statutes. Well may the Hon. Mr. Taylor boast that, in the manufacture of his bill, he never consulted with any individual at the Patent Office, lor with any patent lawyer, or agent, or with any person properly acquainted with the existing laws, their results and operation. He says he expects the opposition of all patent agents, because it would cut down their profits. But il the same breath he tells us that one of the prime objects of his bill is to hedge up the way to patents, and render it diiEcult f or inventors to obtain them. Now this is just what most agents want. The greater the difficulty presented to inventors the more in demand are the services of agents, and the better they thrive ; but, in the same ratio, the inventor is "bled." Mr. Taylor's bill would be a godsend to agents and patent lawyers. Mr. Taylor may be all right at heart in presenting this bill ; but he is evidently very ignorant of the subject to which he aspires. We advise him to go home and learn the A, B, C's of patent business before he makes any further experiments. In the words of the Herald, "the Patent laws, Mr. Taylor, will do very well as they are. Of all things, don't permit yourself to be made a decoy duck of the lobby." The idea which prevails in certain quarters that there is some gi;eat radical defect in the Patent laws, needing immediate legislation, is an old one, and was long since exploded. Careful examination, comparison and attention to the past and present workings of our laws and those of other countries has abundantly proved that our system, as a whole, is sound and healthy, and that it is the best ever adopted by any government in the world. There are, however, a few minor changes connected with the administration of our system that are desirable—such, for example, as the separation of the Patent Office from the Department ofthe Interior, thus making anew bureau—the increase of the Commissioner's alary—the grant of patents without any distinction as to the nationality of the ap-;plicant—the non-return of fees on rejections —compulsory regulations for the attend, ance of witnesses, &o. These few modi-;fications are atout all that is required to renier our system lo complete as to entirely meet the growing wants of the times.
This article was originally published with the title "The American Patent System" in Scientific American 13, 25, 197 (February 1858)