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The decisions, both English and American, down to 1822, had been digested and arranged in Mr. Fessenden's second edition of his very useful work on Patents, published at that time, but the numerous subsequent decisions, as well as the subsequent legislation, seemed to call for a new work upon the subject.
Nearly half of the following treatise was already printed, when I learned that a new patent law was reported to Congress at its last session, whereupon the press was stopped, and the publication delayed, to await the proceedings of the legislature. The proposed act was finally passed on the 4th of July last, by which all the former acts on the same subject were repealed. The former acts will of course remain in force in some respects in application to patents subsisting when they were repealed, since it must depend upon the laws as they are at the time of issuing a patent, whether the subject is patentable, the specification sufficient, and the proper steps taken to secure the exclusive privilege. Though the act of 1836 should have made ever so extensive alterations in these particulars, still it would have been necessary to present the former laws, as well as the provisions of the new one, in a treatise published at the present time. But, in fact, the new law bas not made any material alterations in regard to what may be the subject of a patent, and what is a sufficient specification. It partially follows the former laws in other respects, but, as will appear in various parts of the following treatise, makes many important alterations, some of rather an experimental character, but others, which are undoubtedly improvements : so that on the whole, the law now stands materially better than it did before the act was passed.
I have been indebted to the assistance of Edward Pickering, Esq., in collecting, analyzing and digesting the cases.
W. P. Boston, Nov. 10, 1836.