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TO THE SECOND EDITION.
A LITTLE more than four years has elapsed since the first publication of this work, and a second edition is called for. The English and American cases, since the publication of the First Edition, have been incorporated with the notes; and such alterations and additions have been made in the text as were necessary to adapt it to the advanced state of the Patent Law. I have republished, in the Appendix to this volume, Mr. Thomas Webster's
very able tract on the Subject-Matter of Patents.
I avail myself of this opportunity to express my grateful acknowledgments both to the Bench and the Bar, for the manner in which this work has been received, and for the place that has been assigned to it among the Treatises on this important branch of jurisprudence.
Boston, January 1, 1854.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The following work, the fruit of careful studies in a department of jurisprudence of great practical importance, is presented to the Profession, not without anxiety as to its reception. This branch of the law is-so peculiar, the subjects with which it is concerned are so abstruse, and so much caution is requisite in dealing with its principles and in combining them into a, system, that no writer can expect wholly to satisfy the wants of his readers, who does not bring to its treatment a force of intellect and a reputation as a jurist, which entitle him to be regarded in the light of an authority. But it cannot be my hope, as it is not my desire, to escape criticism. Looking upon the law as a science of vast practical consequence to mankind, and desiring to discharge my humble debt to its Profession, I shall gratefully receive, from any competent source, any suggestions of errors or imperfections in a work designed for practical use.
I have endeavored to walk carefully by the light of adjudged cases ; and although experience has taught me that the Patent Law admits of less reduction to precise rules and axioms than any other branch of jurisprudence, I have endeavored to indicate the true
uses of the judgments and opinions of the courts. The opinions and decisions of judges in patent causes can rarely be treated strictly as precedents, unless they concern the construction of a statute. They are to be
a regarded as illustrations of the principles of the law, when applied to a particular state of facts; and consequently a precise rule is rarely to be eliminated from them, by separation of the principle from the facts to which it has been applied, unless it is certainly one
general or universal application. Correctly regarded, indeed, it is the office of all adjudication to apply the principles of the law, with nice discrimination, to the ever-varying circumstances of different states of fact, and not to rely upon former decisions, as absolute precedents, where the facts are not certainly the same. But this is peculiarly and eminently true in the administration of the Patent Law.
Boston, May 1, 1849.