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interest more especially, it may be dispensed with by an act of special legislation, a right to which is reserved by the government, to be used, when, from fear of benefiting a public enemy or a foreign competitor in the market, the advantages are supposed to be on the side of secrecy;10 though this latter ground is now mostly abandoned, and the former is, at the most, but occasional and temporary.
The inventor, then, having a just claim to remuneration and reward, we come next to the question what kinds of remuneration and reward are practicable and suitable. And in this respect the community is not necessarily restricted to the granting to the inventor a preference in the enjoyment of the advantages of the use of his invention. Rewards in money have in many instances been promised before hand, or awarded subsequently, for discoveries. The divine honors, paid by the Greeks and other ancient
10 Renouard, c. 7. s. 2. p. 276. Ed. of 1825.
nations to those who were public benefactors by their useful discoveries, originated in the principle upon which modern patent laws are founded, though the kind of reward bestowed in the two cases is different. In some instances the inventor cannot be rewarded directly out of the fruits of his invention. This is the case with many discoveries in science. Were any philosopher to discover a certain and easy method of squaring the circle, he could not be rewarded by a grant of a monopoly of the advantage, if it consisted in mere calculation. The British government offered a reward for an improvement in the mode of ascertaining the longitude. Public grants have been made to Mr. Babbage in consideration of the utility of his calculating machine. Many other instances might be enumerated in which a monopoly of the invention was not considered a practicable or a suitable or an adequate compensation to the inventor. The French government, accordingly, by a law of 1791,' provided for the annual distribution of 300,000 livres to artists for labors and discoveries in the useful arts, no part of which is to be given for improvements for which patents are taken out. But this species of reward is liable to much abuse by imposition on the officers of the government to whom the decision on claims is committed, and also by partiality and favoritism on their part in assigning the reward. A writer, already cited, instances the 5000 guineas paid to Dr. Smith for the discovery of nitric fumigation to prevent the communication of contagion,” and says, were the reward to be granted now, “when time and experience enable the public to estimate the value of the nostrum, five pence might be considered a reward somewhat above its value.3
1 Renouard, p. 453.
In the great mass of instances of useful improvements, however, a temporary monopoly is not only the most appropriate reward, since it is the direct fruit of the improvement, and the most equitable, since it is graduated according to its utility, in the public estimation ; and the most convenient, since, as M. Renouard justly remarks, the inventor is saved from the mistakes, favoritism and prejudices of censors, and the public from being imposed upon by charletans and pretenders. This system has accordingly been adopted throughout the civilized world as the most suitable general mode of rewarding improvements in the useful arts; not excluding other modes, however, in special cases.
2 Westminster Rev. January, 1835, No. 43.
3 M. Renouard considers the subject of encouragement of inventions hy rewards, and states the objections to it very fully, c. 2, s. 3, p. 42. He does not oppose this mode of encouragement on the general objection to all bounties as interfering with the freedom of industry and checking competition, since this ground of objection is as inconsistent with patent laws themselves, as it is with other modes of encouragement.
The writer in the Westminster Review, already cited,o mentions a third mode of encouraging improvements in the arts adopted in some countries, by the establishment of professorships for the purpose. Where a regular routine of duties is to be performed that are within the grasp of minds not endowed with any extraordinary power, or transported by enthusiasm, professorships may be very usefully instituted. So salaries, as well as other incitements, may be held out as rewards for inventions, as well as for excellence in the practice of any art, or the knowledge of any science. The appointment of PoetLaureate in England is of this description. So provision may be made by the public in many cases for defraying the expense of a course of experiments in some particular branch of industry or science, and, in fact, a large part of the magnificent discoveries in science, by which modern times have been illustrated, have been the fruits of such public provisions. But it is not practicable to carry this system of encouragement to all the infinitude of useful and ornamental arts by which the condition of men is ameliorated, and civilized society adorned. A stimulus must be applied, and a helping hand held out to genius in the lowest walks of life, in the work-shops and in the fields. The encouragement should be
proffered freely, so as to be attainable without solicitation, and without the intervention of influence, power, and great names, so that genius may work its way in solitude, borne forward only by the impulse of its own enthusiasm. For this purpose a limited monopoly, a temporary enjoyment of all the advantages of a discovery, is not only the most appropriate, but by far the most effectual encouragement in a great majority of improvements in the useful arts.
That the monopoly should be only temporary is quite obvious, for it would be wrong to shut out all others from the advantages of a discovery of an improvement for all time in favor of the first discoverer. This would be more objectionable than the doctrine of territorial dominion in right of discovery. It
It. would be a wrong to the community at large. It would, besides, be highly prejudicial and even dangerous to the general interest, to lock up the useful arts that may minister to the necessities and wellbeing of the great mass of society in a few hands. All laws of this description, therefore, give only a temporary monopoly. They offer a compromise between the inventor and the rest of the community, by which each party surrenders something, and it is proposed that each shall receive an equivalent.