IT IS a notorious fact that the inventor who approaches certain of the government departments in the hope that his invention will be investigated without prejudice and, if found meritorious;, bought up at a price which will guarantee the inventor in selling his invention with the right to exclusive use, will find that he has a hard road to travel. More: often than not he will experience unnecessary delays, to say nothing of considerable financial loss and ultimate disappointment. An eloquent plea for a more liberal attitude to the inventor is made by that able officer and inventor, Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, U. S. N., in the September issue of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings. The argument is so well put that we cannot do better than give it in the Admirals own words. He points out that it is the duty of the navy to encourage not merely engineering skill and mechanical ingenuity, but real invention. Knowing the brilliant original inventive genius of our countrymen, we must not stop short of a determined effort to ascend the highest heaven of invention: We-must hold as high an ideal in this matter as we do in the matters of strategy, tactics and engineering. "Such a policy, wisely and energetic Ctlly carried out, will have as direct and benefcial efect on the navy as our admirable patent system has on the country at large. But, to carry it out, we must frst treat inventors as sane and reputable men, and recognizc the fact that not only does an attempt to evade plain patent rights seem to inventors dishonorable, but it turns them to felds where they have more chance than in a battle against the government. "Why inventors should be treated as they have been is not quite clear. Certainly it has been neither wise nor right to humiliate a class of men who have bee1 useful in the past, and can be made useful in the future. Certainly it is not right for a great government to violate its own patent laws, and infringe patents which the government itself granted and for which it received $35 each. "Does anyonc deny that our electric lights, torpedoes, guns and engines were 'invented, before they were developed; that they werc' conceivcd before they grew and waxed into maturity Does anyone deny that, but for inventors, the coal and iron and brass of our ships would still be in the bowels of the earth We all know that ideas are what have breathed the breath of life into material brass and iron. It has already been pos8ible for one invention to increase the hitting power of naval guns at least ten times. Why not develop such things as soon as possible in secret, and secure the military advantages accruing: imtead- of resisting them until all the world knows about them, and then being tremendously secret about details that any intelligent mechanic can vary in a dozen ways " Patent Property. What It Is. Its Protection AUNITED STATES patent in terms purports to grant to the patentee “the exclusive right to make, usc and vend” the invention therein set forth during the term expressed in the grant throughout the United States and its territorial possessions. The wording of this grant is misleading, for the government cannot grant to anyone, any right, exclusive or otherwise, to make, to use, or to sell an invention which in any way trespasses upon the prior rights of others. A patent is only prima facie evidence of the right to exclude others from making, usmg or vending the invention, and it is always open to the infringer to show that the patent is invalid, by reason of the absence of novelty, utility or invention in the patented device, or .because of other statutory defenses. Many patentees seem to have the impression that the government should of its own initiative compel the alleged infringer to cease his infringing acts. But because the patent is only prima facie valid, the government cannot act until proof is ofered showing its validity, and for the same reason the infringer refuses to stop his infringing aC,ts. Having once, however, proven to the satisfaction of the courts of the government, that the patent is good and valid, protection will be at once aforded to preserve the rights of exclusion bestowed upon the patentee by its grant. This result, however, is attained in the great majority of patent suits only after the expenditure of considerable money, and the expIration of months and sometimes years of time. The owner of a patent, believing his rights to be infringed, if he decides to proceed against the infringer, fles a bill in equity, the great majority of patent suits being brought on the equity side of the court. In this bill, he charges the alleged infringer with the infringement of his patent. The infringer thereupon becomes a defendant, and either denies that he has committed any act of infringement, or admitting that he has, he justifes his acts by pleading that the patent is invalid, and oftentimes combines in one answer both of these ofenses. It is not often that an infringer is discovered making the thing identically as shown, described and claimed in the patent, and the question whether the thing which he does make, constitutes an infringement, thereupon becomes an issue. Occasionally, it will be found that the infringing device is identical with that of the patent, and in such cases, the validity of the patent will constitute the issue. In this attack upon the validity of the patent, it may be shown that the invention was not new at the date of the patent, that it was not the invention of the patentee, or that it had been in public use and on sale more than two years prior to the date of the application on which the patent was issued. The preparation of and presentation to the court of the evidence on behalf of the patentee, and the alleged infringer, is what involves the extraordinary expense incident to patent suits. The decision in such cases generally rests upon the testimony of experts. Those who testify for the patentee, explam to the court the construction, organization and mode of operation of the invention of the patent, and comparing the same with the thing or things made by the alleged infringer,, and express their opinion as to whether or not such things embody the patented invention. The experts for the alleged infringer thereupon place their interpretation upon the patent at issue, and upon such other and prior patents, both domestic and foreign, which may be relied upon as showing either that the patent in suit is of restricted scope, and not infringed by the defendant's manufacture, or is completely lacking in novelty and invention. This evidence is taken before an examiner, and the cost in the average case approximates $175 per day. A further expense arises from the necessity of printing the evidence for presentation to the court. This entails an expense of from $1 to $1.25 per printed page. The expense may be greatly increased by the introduction of irrelevant and immaterial testimony, and also the placing upon the record of extended and oftentimes unwarranted objections of counsel, all of which must be taken down by the examiner and presented to the court, for under the present rules he cannot pass upon the admissibility of evidence. It has been stated that the cost of taking the testimony and presenting it to the court in the famous Selden case, was upward of $150,000. In that case, after long years of litigation, while the patent was not invalidated, the defendants ultimately escaped the charge of infringement. Fortunately for the owners of that patent, however, it was prima facie of such a formidable character, that long before the fnal adjudication, they had succeeded in collecting from the manufacturers of automobiles, thousands of dollars as royalties. The brief in the Selden case consisted of two large octavo volumes of at least 500 pages each, and could have been produced. only at considerable cost. • Another famous case wherein the city of New York was sued, for infringing a patent covering an automatic relief valve for fre engines, was fought through the courts for a period of twenty years before fnal adjudication, at an estimated cost of half a million dollars, and was finally decided in favor of the city on the ground that the patent was invalid. the invention having been proven to have been in public use two years and eleven days before the patent was applied for. The right of exclusion, however, which the government bestows upon a patentee, and which costs so much to enforce, has proven in many cases to be an extremely valuable right; has enriched many inventors, and constitutes the foundation of vast business enterprises, and to this right, largely, is due t wonderful progress of the civilized world. Build a New Patent Ofce THIS is not the age of sentiment or conserva ! ism. A costly new building twenty stories high, for example, must be demolished to make room for one forty stories high which will yield a correspondingly higher proft. The SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has repeatedly called attention to the urgent necessity for a newer and greater Patent Ofce. An article was recently printed giving the facts about the over-crowded and obsolete building now occupied by the Commissioner of Patents and his force of one thousand subordinates. This article was prepared for the purpose of showing the inventors of the country and the manufacturers and merchants that they have been woefully negligent in not insisting that Congress take some steps to house the Patent Ofce decently. Their negligence, however, has been nothing to that of Congress itself, for the inventors, manufacturers and merchants cannot acquaint themselves at frst hand with the conditions at Washington witholt considerable loss of time and money, while Congress, on the other hand, has been repeatedly and persistently importuned in the matter, and every member of Congress is in a position to thoroughly satisfy himself on the subject. Ever since Commissioner Moore frst took the offce he now holds he has been reminding Congress that the Patent Ofce is in need of legislative action to give it larger and better working quarters. Bills have been introduced carrying the necessary appropriations and arguments have been made in the committees, all to no avail. The surprising thing about this dilatory policy on the part of Congress is the fact that the Patent Offce, which is one of the very few self-supporting branches of the government, has a sufcient surplus in the Treasury to defray all the expenses of a new Patent Ofce building, including the ground to build it on. This surplus, which amounts to something like seven millions of dollars, represents a net proft over all the expenses of running the Patent Ofce since it was frst instituted. A pretty comfortable margin of proft, indeed, when one considers the enormous expenses that the ofce is under to get competent examiners and to turn out high-grade printing, photolithographing, etc. What private enterprise whose net profts were seven millions of dollars would be content to occupy a building wholly inadequate for its needs Congress has no right to require clerks to work in dark, crowded rooms, where health is endangered and ambition thwarted. Disagreeable surroundings have a physical and mental efect on workers. Ask any housewife whether she can work or live happilv in an untidy house. In such a household one would look for disease, sloth and uncleanliness. Is it not equally discouraging for men and women to work in a room where documents and books are piled high, accumulating dust, and in a semi-chaotic condition, just because there is no room for them to be properly cared for Congress does not have to appropriate a single dollar for the building of a new Patent Ofce over and above the surplus already earned by that bureau. A bill should be passed early in the coming session giving relief to the Patent Ofce. Every session that sees nothing done in this regard increases the gravity of the situation. The Patent Ofce records are of the utmost value. Their loss or destruction would undermine the foundations of the entire business world. They could never be replaced. The security of countless millions of dollars rests in their preservation. The Patent Ofce models, too, lead a precarious existence, and some efort should be made to give them proper storage facilities until such a time as they can be properly housed in the uew Patent Ofce. Some day when it is too late, perhaps Congress will be forced by the clamor of public opinion to allow the use of the Patent Ofce's money for a new building. Why not take action now, while there is yet time to save these priceless records
This article was originally published with the title "The Navy and the Inventor, Patent Property. What it Is. Its Protection, and more"