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shall in any case be made to appear. And such adjudication, if it be in favor of the right of such applicant, shall authorize the commissioner to issue such patent, on his filing a copy of the adjudication, and otherwise complying with the requisitions of this act. Provided, however, that no such judgment or adjudication shall affect the rights of any person except the parties to the action and those deriving title from or under them subsequent to the rendition of such judgment.”

Under this section all cases of applications interfering with unexpired patents, and of patents interfering with each other, are made subject to judicial investigation by bill in equity. If either party is interested exclusively in a patent applied for or granted, only in respect to a particular district, the decision is binding only co-extensively with such a district. In case an assignee of an unexpired patent for a district, opposes the grant of a patent, and the court decides in favor of the grant, the validity of the patent is thereby established, it should seem, as between the parties and their assigns in respect to such district, though it is open to dispute in any

other; and so it may be open to be disputed in that district by any one not a party to the proceeding in equity. It is possible, accordingly, that contrary decisions may be given in different districts between different parties interested in the same patents, and this fact is not the ground of any objection to this provision of the law ; ' since any provision which would be binding upon others than parties to the proceedings, would open a door to collusive suits. And as to inconsistencies of decisions in different districts on the same patent, it is evident that different decisions in reference to the same patent in different districts may be made, without any

inconsistency in the verdicts or adjudications, since each verdict and adjudication must be determined by the evidence given in each case, and this may be such as to show the validity of the patent in one district, and its invalidity in another.


Under the law of 1793, s. 1, patents were signed by the president. As the signing is a mere ministerial act, the responsibility as to granting the patent having been formerly with the secretary of state and attorney general, and being, under the act of 1836, with the commissioner of patents, there seems to be no particular propriety in assigning the duty of signing patents to the president ; for considering it to be a grant, Congress may authorize any officer or person to execute the document by which it is made. The English patents are signed by the king, which was probably the precedent followed in the act of 1793 in assigning the same duty to the president. It does not appear that the same inconvenience has been experienced in the United States as in England in obtaining the signature. From the testimony given before the committee of the House of Commons, in 1829, it seems that patents are often delayed for the royal sign-manual on account of the sickness of the king, or other hindrance. It is represented by the witnesses that despatch in obtaining the patent depends very much upon the vigilance and activity of the applicant; they say it is a race between different applicants. No complaint of delay on this score has been made in the United States, and despatch has not been of the same importance here as in England, where the validity of the patent, on the score of the novelty of the invention, or the precedence of one patent to another, often depends on despatch in getting the application through the offices, whereas in the United States the delay of the signature does not affect the patent right, since, as has been already stated, the inventor is not ousted of his right if he himself is guilty of no neglect, though twenty persons, getting some knowledge of his invention, should hasten to pirate it.

As the president has many important duties, it seems to be expedient that the duty of signing patents should be assigned to some other officer, not to relieve applicants from any embarrassment, occasioned to them in consequence of this duty belonging to the president, but for the more convenient official despatch of this branch of the administration of the laws. The act of 1836, s. 5, accordingly provides that patents issued from the patent office “ shall be issued in the name of the United States, and under the seal of said office, and be signed by the secretary of state, and countersigned by the commissioner of said office." The certificate of the attorney general is dispensed with by this act.



It is provided by the act of 1836, s. 5, that patents shall be recorded together with the descriptions, specifications and drawings, in said [patent] office in books to be kept for that purpose.

The recording is in effect the publication of the patent, including the specification. In England, as we have seen, the patent is issued before the specification is filed. The patent gives only a very general description of the subject ; from which the public can hardly have notice of the invention, and artists are not thereby enabled to avail themselves of it. The enrollment of the specification is there required by the patent to be made within a certain time, varying in different patents from one to six months, or longer.' The English courts are very strict in requiring a compliance with the condition as to enrollment, and held that, except by act of parliament, it cannot be dispensed with.”

6 It has been suggested that under the law of 1793 it was contrary to law to issue the patent before it was recorded, though it was said to be a frequent practice so to issue patents. North Am. Rev. v. 23, p. 302. The act of 1836, by a change of phraseology, seems to avoid any objection to the validity of the patent on this score


Duration, Surrender, Renewal and Prolongation of



he act of Congress of 1836, s. 5, following that of 1793, s. 1, provides that the commissioner of

patents may make out letters-patent granting to the petitioner or petitioners therefor, his, her, or their administrators, executors or assigns, for a term not exceeding fourteen years, the full and exclusive right

* Heathcote ex parte Rep. of Arts, Second Series, v. 29, p. 252. Westm. Rev. Jan., 1835, Foster's Am. Ed. p. 102; Watson v. Pears, 2 Camp. 294 ; Castle v. Burditt, 3 T. R. 623; Glassington v. Rawlins, 3 East, 407 8 Ex parte Beck, 1 Bro. C. C. 578.

Koops ex parte, 6 Ves. 599. But of all the patents granted during the reign of Geo. 3, down to 1816, being 3256, it has been stated that parliament had not dispensed with the enrollment of the specification, in more than two or three instances. Rep. of Arts, Second Series, v. 29, p. 253, 319.


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