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The operations of the Patent Office during the year 1844.
JANUARY 29, 1845. Road, and ordered that a motion that it be printed, and that 5,000 adulitional copies be furnished for the use of the Senate, be referred to the Committee on Printing.
JANUARY 30, 1845. Ordered to be printed, and tbat 20,000 additional copies (omitting the lists of patents) be furnished; 19,500 of which for the use of the Senate, and 500 for the use of the Commissioner of Fatents.
PATENT OFFICE, January 28, 1845. The Commissioner of Patents has the honor to submit his annual report for the year ending with the close of 1844.
Five hundred and two patents have been issued during the year 1844, including seven reissues, twelve designs, and five additional improvements to former patents, of which classified and alphabetical lists are annexed, marked N and O.
During the same period, five hundred and thirty-nine patents have expired, as per list marked P.
The applications for patents during the year past amount to one thousand and forty-five, and the number of caveats filed was three hundred and eighty.
The receipts of the office for the year 1844 amount to forty-one thousand two hundred and twenty dollars and six cents, from which are to be de. ducted, repaid on applications withdrawn, as per statement marked A, ten thousand and forty dollars.
The ordinary expenses of the Patent Office for the past year have been twenty-four thousand two hundred and twenty-eight dollars and four cents; to which add, for library and agriculture, two thousand and seventy-six dollars and forty-nine cents, leaves a nett balance of six thousand one hundred and sixty-four dollars and seventy-three cents, to be credited to the patent fund, as per statement marked B.
For the restoration of models, records, and drawings, under the act of 3d March, 1837, the sum of two thousand eight hundred and twenty-two dollars and sixty-six cents, as per statement marked C.
The whole number of patents issued by the United States, up to January, 1845, is fourteen thousand and twenty-four. Although the number of patents granted the past year is not so great as that of the year previous, it will be seen that there is an excess of applications to the amount of two hundred and twenty-six.
The increase of models renders daily the transaction of business more
difficult. The models of the patented inventions are crowded so much as lo prevent classification; while models of rejected applications, equally important for exhibition, to enable supposed inventors to settle doubts as to originality, are not exhibited at all. It has been hoped that the large upper hall, designed originally for models, would not be diverted to other objects without some substitute being furnished. The beautiful collection of curiosities, however, from various parts of the world, forming the National Gallery, are too important and interesting to be crowded out. There seems to be no alternative but to extend the building. This can be done at a moderate expense, if the work is performed by contract, under careful supervision. No new plan need now be presented. The original design contemplated two additional wings, one of which, added on the west side, would give sufficient accommodation by furnishing continuous rooms for models and the gallery. The number of applications for the extension of patents during 1844 was twelve. Two were granted, and ten rejected.
The board of commissioners have extended seven patents since the act of Congress approved 4th July, 1836.
Patentees seem to think, that if they pay the fee required, and show that they have not made the patent profitable, (and especially if no objection is urged by the public against the extension,) that the extension will be allowed as a matter of course-forgetting that all patents granted prior to the reorganization of the Patent Office in 1836 were not subject to examination as to novelty ; in other words, any applicant prior to that time, who was willing to swear that he was the first and original inventor, could demand a patent, leaving the courts to settle questions of utility and originality. Many patents granted prior to 1836 do not, therefore, contain any merit, and an extension of the same would only end in disappointment, if the originality were tested.
By reference to the decisions of the board of commissioners, composed of "the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of Patents, and the Solicitor of the Treasury, it appears that extension of patents cannot be expected when the invention is trivial, and where the right to use and vend the same has been unmolested; or where the machine is not complicated, and little expenditure of time or money is necessary to introduce it--they believing, it is supposed, that it would be better thus to place before the patentee (who can deprive the public of the use of the invention) the strongest motives to bring the same into immediate use upon fair and equitable terms, rather than delay with indifference fourteen years, thinking that he can get an extension for seven years more. If patents were extended upon applications as a matter of course, it is evident most patentees would apply, and thus make the duration of all patents equivalent to twenty-one years-crowding too, upon the board of commissioners, an amount of extra labor which they could not possibly discharge.
It may here be remarked, that, however desirous Congress might have been to make the section of the patent law under which patents are extended clear and explicit, much litigation has arisen upon its construction; and I feel compelled to mention the contradictory decisions, that further legislation may be had, if deemed expedient. The 18th section is in the following words:
“ And be it further enacted, That whenever any patentee of an invention or discovery shall desire an extension of his patent beyond the term of its limitation, he may make application therefor, in writing, to the Come
missioner of the Patent Office, setting forth the grounds thereof; and the Commissioner shall, on the applicant's paying the sum of forty dollars to the credit of the Treasury, as in the case of an original application for a patent, cause to be published in one or more of the principal newspapers in the city of Washington, and in such other paper or papers as he may deem proper, published in the section of country most interested adversely to the extension of the patent, a notice of such application, and of the time and place when and where the same will be considered, that any person may appear and show cause why the extension should not be granted; and the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of the Patent Office, and the Solicitor of the Treasury, shall constitute a board to hear and decide upon the evidence produced before them, both for and against the extension, and shall sit for that purpose at the time and place designated in the published notice thereof. The patentee shall furnish to said board a statement, in writing, under oath, of the ascertained value of the invention, and of his receipts and expenditures, sufficiently in detail to exhibit a true and faithful account of loss and profit in any manner accruing to him from and by reason of said invention. And if, upon a hearing of the matter, it shall appear, to the full and entire satisfaction of said board, having due regard to the public interest therein, that it is just and proper that the term of the patent should be extended, by reason of the patentee, without neglect or fault on his part, having failed to obtain, from the use and sale of his invention, a reasonable remuneration for the time, ingenuity, and expense, bestowed upon the same, and the introduction thereof into use, it shall be the duty of the Commissioner to renew and extend the patent, by making a certificate thereon of such extension, for the term of seven years from and after the expiration of the first term; which certificate, with a certificate of said board of their judgment and opinion as aforesaid, shall be entered on record in the Patent Office; and ihereupon the said patent shall have the same effect in law as though it had been originally granted for the term of twenty-one years; and the benefit of such renewal shall extend to assignees and grantees of the right to use the thing palented, to the extent of their respective interests therein: Provided, however, That no extension of a patent shall be granted after the expiration of the term for which it was originally issued."
It may not be improper here to notice the construction of this section by the board of commissioners, whose doties are defined by it, viz: that the benefit of the extension inures to assignees according to their respective interest in the thing patented, be it more or less, whether it be a right to use the specific machine or article sold, or a right to make and sell in a town, county, or State.
Had the board doubted upon this point, I feel no hesitation in saying that they never would have consented, “having a due regard to the public interests,” to the extension of several patents which have been extended.
If the benefit of extension were confined to the patentee alone, assignees, however late their purchase, and however much they might have expend. ed in fixtures, might be at once enjoined even from using the very article purchased—a result certainly wholly unexpected to the assignee when he entered into covenant with the patentee.
In the district embracing New England, assignees have, by the circuit judge of that district, been enjoined fully, in numerous cases, and compelled to purchase even the right to use the invention after extension of the patent.
In the district of Maryland, however, before the Chief Justice of the United States, the same point has arisen, and, after full argument and ma. ture consideration, been decided directly to the contrary, viz: that the extension of a patent does inure for the benefit of the assignee. Various decisions have been made in circuit courts, where the same was held by the district judge, differing from each other. It is highly important, there. fore, that the question of benefit of the extension should be speedily settled by further legislation or by the Supreme Court.
The success which has attended the efforts of American inventors, by taking out patents in Europe, will induce many others to secure the same privileges. Hence the frequent inquiry at the Patent Office, how can patents be obtained abroad? Although willing to communicate all information on this subject that I possess, other duties do not permit me to reply to letters received containing such inquiries. To gratify inventors, I have an. nexed a brief synopsis (marked E) of the general regulation for taking out patents in foreign countries. With pleasure will it be noticed, that in no country are patents obtained so cheap, or with so little delay, as in the United States; and yet inventors here are proverbially impatient.
The increasing business of this office will soon demand additional force. In the mean time, I cannot omit to present to the consideration of Congress the claims of the scientific corps who conduct the business of the office to a more adequate compensation for their services. I do not allude to the salary of the Commissioner of Patents. Deep study and a knowledge of different languages, a minute acquaintance with the arts and sciences, and much er. perience, are all required, to fit an individual for the office of examiner; and yet his pay is only $1,500—less than is paid for clerical duties in many of the bureaus. The present compensation will be inadequate to induce those now in the office to remain, and much more to replace the assistance needed, if a vacancy occurs. One examiner has already tendered his resigna. tion, and consented to remain in the hope of further legislation. I beg to ask, if, while the income of the office is fully sufficient to meet all necessary expense, whether it would not be a matter of the deepest regret to part with experienced help, for new and untried hands. What blunders, what errors, what litigation, would ensue! The public, it is hoped, have some confidence in the office. If this confidence is lost, dissatisfaction would arise, and appeals take place. It is due to the corps in this office to say, that their pay is much less than is made to other officers in like capaci. ties. The following sums are paid, viz: To the chief of the coast survey
$6,000 To one assistant
- 3,500 To two assistants
3,500 To three assistants
3,500 To four assistants
2,000 To five assistants
2,000 To six assistants
2,000 On weights and measures
2,500 In the navyEngineers for planning engines
3,000 Principal engineer for superintending and constructing steam engines
2,500 Chief nayal constructor