ALL ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE CSA PATENT OFFICE
Report for 1861
CONFEDERATE STATES PATENT OFFICE
Richmond, January 1862
In obedience to the requirements of the Act "To establish a Patent Office," etc., approved May 21, 1861, I have the honor to lay before Congress the annexed list of the Patents that have issued from this office, prior to the 1st instant, so classified as to designate under proper heads the subjects to which they relate. Appended also is an alphabetical list of the patentees with their places of residence.
The condition of the office at the close of the past year, as well as its operations from the date of its establishment, up to that time, will be explained by the following tables.
Number of applications for patents 304
Number of caveats 110
Number of patents issued 57
Number of United States Patents and
assignments thereof, recorded 112
Amount of fees received $9,000.90
Amount of expenditures 6,188.28
Excess of receipts over expenditures 2,812.62
Statement No. 1
Monies received by the Patent Office, from May 22, 1861 to
December 31st, 1861, inclusive
On applications for patents $5,209.00
On account of United States Patents and assignments 2,875.73
On account of caveats 798.73
For excess of fees paid 77.50
For recording Confederate States assignments and
for copies of papers 24.08
Miscellaneous postage 15.75
Statement No. 2
Expenditures from the Patent Fund, from May 22, 1861 to
December 31, 1861, inclusive
For salaries $4,788.34
Temporary clerks 119.72
Books for library 94.00
Excess of fees refunded 40.00
For furniture 309.75
For printing 236.52
For postage 146.95
For seal of office 78.00
The patents issued, were distributed among the several
States, as follows:
To citizens of Virginia 15
To citizens of Georgia 9
To citizens of Alabama 7
To citizens of Louisiana 6
To citizens of North Carolina 5
To citizens of South Carolina 4
To citizens of Mississippi 4
To citizens of Tennessee 3
To citizens of Arkansas 2
To citizens of Florida 1
To citizens of Texas 1
Of the patents that have been allowed, eighteen or nearly one-third of the whole number, cover improvements in fire arms, or other destructive implements of war, a fact which strikingly illustrates the disposition of inventors, considered as a distinct class of citizens, to contribute each his offering in furtherance and support of the great cause of civil liberty, whose defence and vindication Providence has assigned to the people of the Confederate States.
It would be invidious and improper for me to attempt to discriminate between these improvements, by selecting from among them particular cases for favorable criticism and comment. But with the view of showing that some of them have decided merit, I may with propriety, point to the fact that they have been adopted by the Government, for use against the enemy, after trial, in preference to inventions of a similar character, which, originating in foreign countries, have received there the highest approval of scientific and military men.
Among the pending and the rejected cases, the same, or very nearly the same, proportion prevails with respect to the subject presented by them to the consideration of the office. And it is among the rejected applications especially that there is found the strongest evidence of the stimulating effect which the combined influence of the revolution in which we are engaged, and the yearning behests of patriotisms in the Southern heart, has produced upon the Southern mind within the sphere, at least, of the operations and observations of the Patent Office. Conclusions which the ablest scientific men of the world have toiled for years to attain in regard to certain classes of inventions have been reached by Southern men as by a single intuitive perception, or bound of the mind, under the powerful incentive which an earnest desire to aid the common cause has awakened. Nor is this praiseworthy desire confined to citizens of any particular profession or pursuit. It prevails every where -- in the army, in the workshops and in the closet. Inventions, having the one grand object of aiding the country to withstand the attacks of its enemy, or to strike damaging blows in return, have come up to the Patent Office from ministers of the gospel, from professors in colleges, and from officers and private soldiers in active service in the field, it might be, almost in the very presence of the enemy. A village schoolmaster in the State of Arkansas, presenting his contribution, has received a patent for an instrument for measuring distances without the use of logarithms or other difficult process of calculation, which, if it but fulfill the expectations of the inventor, is likely to be of immediate practical value in the adjustment of artillery to different ranges, whether in fixed batteries or in service in the field. I am informed that the instrument in question is soon to be tested with guns at Nashville, and there are strong grounds for believing it will prove a complete success. [See Alfred G. Hearn, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, patent no. 36, September 1, 1861, Machine for measuring distances. KWD]
As might be expected from the character and pursuits of our people, a considerable proportion of the mechanical improvements for which patents are sought, relate to agricultural implements. Among the patents that have been granted, nine are for improvements of this description.
In the examination of applications for patents, the office labors under serious disadvantages for want of books of reference, and I do not perceive any immediate prospect of remedying the difficulty. There is not a polytechnic journal for sale in Richmond, and the supply of other books of the kind required by the office is exceedingly limited. I have only been able to procure a few cyclopaedias of art and science, and some treatises upon the subject matter of patents, and though I am extending my enquiries beyond Richmond, I have no very sanguine hope of adding greatly to the library for some time to come. Mindful of the maxim "that it is better to err on the safe side," I have, from the day the office was organized, acted upon the principle of giving the benefit of all doubt to the applicant. In all cases, therefore, in which the office could not point to the evidence of a want of novelty in the subject on which an application was based, however strong the doubt entertained whether that subject were really new, the rule has been to let a patent go out. This policy, which, I trust, meets the approval of Congress, in connection with the want, to which I have adverted, of proper books of reference must unavoidably result in the occasional issue of a patent which ultimately the courts will be called upon to set aside. The power with which the courts are clothed of declaring letters patent to be void that have been on any account improperly granted, relieves the policy I have thought it my duty to adapt, as above stated, it will be perceived, of every possible objection, and secures to the people the reclamation of any rights which might seem to be temporarily withdrawn from them. A less liberal line of action might work irreparable injury to individuals without any compensating good to the public.
It will be observed that one hundred and twelve United States patents only have been "continued in force" up to the 1st instant. A portion of these have been "continued in force" by assignees for a specified portion of territory only, leaving still to the public the full use and enjoyment of the inventions covered by them outside the limits of the specified portions of territory embraced by deeds of assignment. From the lights before me, it may be safely estimated that there are at least three thousand United States patents belonging in whole, or in part, to citizens of the Confederate States. That not more than one hundred and twelve have been "continued in force" by a compliance with the provisions of the statute, is chiefly to be ascribed, it is believed, to the ignorance of the holders of them of the requirements of the law. The extension of time within which such patents may be recorded, with a view to revival, secures to many citizens valuable rights which otherwise would have been lost, and it cannot but command the gratitude of all concerned.
The considerable excess of receipts over the expenditures, up to the period to which this report extends, and which has resulted in placing a surplus of $2,812.62, in the Treasury to the credit of the Patent fund, sufficiently demonstrates that the Office is most prosperous in its financial department, and that it is entirely self-sustaining. It may be remarked however, that looking to the possible refusal or failure on the part of Congress to extend the limitation in relation to the recording of United States patents, and to the consequent total cessation of receipts from that source, I have thought it the part of wisdom, to administer the Office with as small a clerical force as possible, without unduly delaying its current business. I desired, in a word, to accumulate a surplus fund, to enable the Office to live in such contingency, until a changed condition in the country, from a state of war to one of peace, the receipts from applicants for patents and caveators might reasonably be expected to be sufficient to pay its expenses, with a full working force of examiners and clerks. The policy has borne somewhat hardly upon the employees in the office; but it gives me pleasure to testify in their behalf, that nothing could exceed the cordial zeal and good will, with which every one of them has responded to my wishes in this particular, despite the excessive labor, thus imposed upon them, by a faithful and unremitting attention to their respective duties. In this connection, I beg leave respectfully to ask that the salary now fixed for "recording clerks," be increased to twelve hundred dollars per annum. The very high prices charged for almost every article of personal comfort, as well as for the absolute necessities of life at this place, makes one thousand dollars a year, too little to do more than barely support a man of family, and besides, the pecuniary condition of the office, justifies the increase in pay to the extent I have suggested.
The Act of May 21st, 1861, is, to a very great extent, a mere transcript of several United States statutes in relation to patents, and the United States Patent Office and some of its provisions are inapplicable to this Office, or impossible of fulfillment. The Act might indeed be remodeled throughout, and many of its present provisions left out with propriety; but, inasmuch as I do not perceive any immediate chance that evil is likely to arise out of its objectionable features, I have deemed it right to refrain alike from an enumeration of them, and from suggestions looking to their amendment.
In view too of the exactions of the important duties of a more general and public nature, which doubtless now press upon Congress, the subject may need to be deferred to a future day.
The whole of the third story of the building known, I believe, as the "Mechanic's Institute," has been assigned to the Patent Office, and in the large hall which occupies four fifths of its space, cabinets with glass doors have been conveniently arranged for the exhibition of patented models, and are free to inspection by all who desire to see them. The collection of models is yet small, and covers but little space, but there are still enough, I may be permitted to say, to show that the Southern people possess inventive genius in an abundant measure, and that it needed but an occasion like that which is upon us, to give it an active vitality and expression, which, beneficial in a large degree to the living present, cannot fail to be fruitful of magnificent results to coming generations.
Rufus R. Rhodes
Commissioner of Patents
To the President of the Confederate States Congress
Report for 1862
REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS
CONFEDERATE STATES PATENT OFFICE
Richmond, January 1863
Hon. Thos. S. Bocock
Speaker of the House of Representatives, C.S.A.:
As directed by the 23d section of the act of May 21st, 1861, establishing this office, I have the honor to lay before Congress the annexed list of the patents granted in the year 1862, so classified as to exhibit under appropriate heads the respective inventions to which said patents refer. An alphabetical list of the patentees, with their places of residence, is also annexed, as required by the statute.
The following tables will briefly but clearly explain the operations of the Patent Office during the past, as well as its condition at the commencement of the present year:
The number of applications during the year was 147
The number of caveats issued during the year was 64
The number of patents issued during the year was 75
The number of U.S. patents and assignments of U.S.
patents in whole or in part, recorded and revived 178
Amount of money received $9,186.98
Amount of money on hand January 1st, 1862 2,812.62
Amount of expenditures 9,391.83
Balance in the Treasury $2,607.77
Statement No. 1. Monies received at the Patent Office from the
31st December, 1861, to the 1st January 1863
On applications for patents $4,679.45
On account of U.S. patents and assignments 584.75
On caveats, thereof recorded and revived, and for
making the drawings required in connection
For recording assignments of Confederate States
patents, and for copies of papers 87.20
For a carpet sold to Ordnance Bureau 93.33
Of the above amount $5,458.38 were received during the quarter
ending March 31st; $1,339.77 during the quarter ending June 30th;
$941.50 during the quarter ending September 30th, and $1,447.33
during the quarter ending December 31st.
Statement No. 2. Expenditures from the Patent Fund from
December 31st, 1861, to January 1st 1863
For salaries of officers and clerks $7,917.69
For temporary clerks 421.38
For books, stationery, etc. 300.82
Miscellaneous expenses, including wages of negro
For printing 297.03
For postage 178.00
The patents issued were distributed among the several States of
the Confederacy as follows:
To citizens of Virginia 20
To citizens of Mississippi 10
To citizens of Alabama 8
To citizens of Georgia 7
To citizens of Louisiana 6
To citizens of Texas 6
To citizens of South Carolina 5
To citizens of North Carolina 5
To citizens of Tennessee 5
To citizens of Arkansas 1
To citizens of Florida 1
To citizens of Kentucky 1
It will be observed that the receipts of the first quarter exceed those of the second quarter more than fourfold, and that they are greater by $1,729.78 than the aggregate receipts of the second, third and fourth quarters. The sudden and very great falling off after the first quarter is susceptible of easy explanation. It is in fact chiefly, though not altogether, to be ascribed to the misfortunes to which the country was subjected about that time. The occupation by the enemy, of a part of Louisiana, Western and Middle Tennessee, including the cities of New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville, as well as considerable districts of territory in Virginia, the Carolinas, and other States could not fail to have an immediate and most depressing effect upon the revenue of an establishment whose revenues are measured by the number of persons seeking the protection of the government, through its agency, and which flourishes or languishes, according as the number of those persons is large or small. So, also, the possession by the enemy of New Orleans and Memphis, with a considerable extent of the Mississippi river, above and below those points, by interrupting the old lines of communication, indisposed the citizens of the States beyond the Mississippi river to incur the supposed risk of remitting money by the uncertain channels remaining open to them. From this cause, immediately after the fall of New Orleans and Memphis, the receipts from Texas, Arkansas and Western Louisiana, which previously had been proportionately as great as those from any other section of the Confederacy not containing a larger population, fell down at once to a merely nominal amount, nor has there since been any perceptible improvement.
To the disasters, therefore, which befell our army last spring, and to the withdrawal of so many of our people from their usual peaceful avocations to enter the army, is the decline in the business and revenue of the Patent Office mainly to be attributed. These were not, however, the only causes, and had the country escaped the unhappy reverses which characterized that darkest period of our existence as a nation, there would still have been a considerable decline under the operation of the act of January 23d, 1862. That act reduced the fees for recording and reviving United States patents and assignments of United States patents, owned by citizens of the Confederacy, to one half the amount previously fixed by the act of May 21st, 1861, and the receipts would necessarily have been diminished to that extent, even although the holders of such instruments had continued to file them for record and revival, as rapidly as had been the case prior to the passage of such act. But the act not only reduced the fees in such cases; it also extended the time within which United States patents and assignments of United States patents might be recorded with the view to restore their validity, to a period ending six months after the present war; and hence, it took away all motive for immediate action on the part of the holders of such instruments, and practically postponed all revenue from that source until after the close of the war. That the effect of the act is as stated, is shown by the fact that not one hundred dollars have been received for recording and reviving United States patents and assignments thereof, since the 1st of May, whereas previous to that date, and before the extension of the limitation became generally known, notwithstanding the reduced fees, the receipts in that behalf were larger than from all other sources combined.
In thus commenting upon the Act in question, it is not designed to indicate an adverse opinion as to the propriety of its passage, but only to explain one of the causes which for a time made the income insufficient to meet the expenses of the office, and entailed the consequences which will be presently noticed. The law is a good one, and ought to stand. The fees as fixed by it are not believed to be too small, and as the extension of time was but a simple act of justice to a meritorious class of citizens whose rights might otherwise have been seriously injured, no thought of suggesting a repeal, nor even any alteration of its provisions, is for a moment entertained. The policy which dictated its enactment was wise and just, and though in its present operation it deprives the office of a source of revenue, the deprivation is but temporary, and may well be borne without complaint in consideration of the benefits to be derived by those who, engaged in fighting the battles of the country, have no time now to attend to private interest.
Diminished receipts made it requisite to curtail the expenditures of the office, and as this could only be done by reducing its clerical force, recourse was had to that alternative. The officers and clerks whose services were to be dispensed with had been carefully selected, and with especial reference to the somewhat peculiar duties of the Patent Office, and they had, without exception, well and zealously performed their duties. It need hardly be added, therefore, that the above alternative was exceedingly disagreeable, and indeed painful. It is a gratifying fact, however, that in no single instance was a compulsory dismissal necessary. The gentlemen employed in the office by their own action averted such necessity -- each as the business of his desk was worked off, and he found himself without employment, voluntarily resigned his place, and it give me pleasure to refer to the fact as exhibiting a spirit greatly to be commended. At length, about the middle of November one assistant examiner alone remained, and thus far it has been found that with his assistance the business of the office can be dispatched without delay. In this way the expenses have been reduced as much as it was possible to reduce them; and if the average monthly receipts for the last three months can be accepted as indicating what may be expected in the future, there is no room for doubting the capacity of the office to sustain itself amid all the drawbacks consequent upon the dreadful war in which we are engaged, without drawing to any considerable extent upon the surplus now in the Treasury. The receipts for the last three months have, in fact, been a little more than will be required to meet the expenses of any corresponding period this year, so long as the office is administered with its present force. As in the preceding year, a large proportion of the applications have been based on alleged improvements in the engines and implements of war, and it is a striking illustration of the truth of the familiar aphorism, that "necessity is the mother of invention;" that twenty-six, or more than one-third of the patents that have been allowed, cover improvements of this class. Nor will it be amiss to state that a fair proportion of these improvements have proved of high value in actual practice against the enemy. The records of the office for the past, furnish even more conclusive proof than during the present year, that in all that relates to the practice of the Mechanic Arts, the Southern people are the equals of any other race in the world, and the prediction is not idly adventured, that, as in the attributes of genuine manhood, as exhibited upon so many glorious fields of battle, as well as in those of a more purely intellectual and moral nature, the Southerners have shown themselves immeasurably superior to their late associates of the North, so also will they quickly transcend Yankee craft and ingenuity in the boasted department of invention and discovery.
Serious difficulties have still to be encountered in the examinations of cases, from the want of proper books of reference, and although there is no proof as yet that such is the case, it is almost certain that some of the patents that have been granted, and that will hereafter be granted, will be set aside ultimately by the courts. The policy is still pursued of giving the benefit of every doubt to the applicant, and in all cases in which positive proof cannot be procured of the want of novelty in the subject matter of a given claim, the rule continues to be to grant a patent. In this connection, I beg leave to call the attention of Congress to the fact, that the existing law restricts the amount which may be expended by the Commissioner in the purchase of books for the library to five hundred dollars. And as nearly that amount has already been expended, and additions to the library, whenever the opportunity of purchasing books presents itself, ought to be made, I respectfully suggest that authority be given the Commissioner to expend an additional sum of five hundred dollars for such purpose, if in his judgment it may safely be done.
Section 7, of the Act of May 21st, 1861, in giving the right of appeal from the Commissioner's decisions to the Attorney General, to parties who are not satisfied with such decisions, neglects to require the production by such parties of any reasons of appeal, either orally or in writing. The propriety and even necessity of such a requirement is so manifest that no argument need be made in support of it. The effect of its omission is to enable every rejected applicant, on his mere motion, to take his case before the Attorney General without specifying a single reason for so doing. The omission to incorporate such a requirement was probably the result of inadvertence on the part of the framers of the law, and the passage of an amendatory Act, which shall cure the defect, is respectfully recommended.
RUFUS R. RHODES
Commissioner of Patents
Report for 1863
REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS
C.S. Patent Office
Richmond, Jan 1864
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives, C.S.A.:
In obedience to the requirements of the 23rd section of the act establishing the Patent Office, approved May 21, 1861, I have the honor to submit to Congress the annexed list of Patents, granted during the year 1863, so classified as to exhibit, under appropriate headings, the invention or discovery upon which each patent is founded; and, as further required by said act, an alphabetical list of the patentees is also appended, with the place of residence of each of them duly noted.
The following tables will explain the operations of the office, during the past, and show its condition at the commencement of the present year:
Number of applications for patents during the year 114
Caveats filed 47
Patents issued 89
U.S. patents, and assignments of U.S. patents in whole
or in part, recorded and revived 13
Amount of money received $5,670.00
Amount of money on hand, January 1, 1863 2,607.97
Amount expended 5,769.65
Balance on hand $2,508.12
STATEMENT No. 1
Moneys received at the Patent Office from Dec. 31, 1862, to
January 1. 1864
On application for patents 4,330.00
On caveats 650.00
On U.S. patents, and assignments of U.S. patents in
whole or part, recorded and revised, and for making
the drawing required in connection therewith 195.00
For copies of drawings, specifications, etc. 297.00
Received by depositories, prior to Dec 31, 1862, and
returned to the Treasury, but not till afterwards to
the Patent Office 198.00
Of the above amount, $1,667.00 was received during the
quarter ending 31st March; $1,402 during the quarter ending 30th
of June; $1,612.50 during the quarter ending 30th of September
and $992.00 during the quarter ending 31st of December.
STATEMENT No. 2
Expenditures from the Patent Fund, from December 31, 1861,
to January 1, 1864:
Salary of Commissioner $3,000.00
Salary of assistant Examiner 1,750.00
For all other expenses, including payments to
temporary clerks occasionally employed in copying,
for the services of a negro porter, the cost of
stationery, etc., etc. 1,019.65
One patent was issued to a citizen of Bavaria, the rest were
distributed among the several States of the Confederacy, as
To the citizens of Virginia 33
To the citizens of Georgia 11
To the citizens of Missouri 9
To the citizens of Texas 8
To the citizens of North Carolina 7
To the citizens of Alabama 6
To the citizens of Mississippi 4
To the citizens of Louisiana 4
To the citizens of Kentucky 3
To the citizens of South Carolina 2
To the citizens of Arizona Territory 1
Thirty-one of the patents issued, cover improvements in fire-arms, projectiles or other war missiles, or in the machinery for their manufacture, and a fair proportion of these improvements have been adopted by the Government, and have proven of practical service and value to it, in its military operations, and in the preparation of its ordnance supplies.
A part of the patents issued were founded upon applications filed during the two proceeding years, so that a larger number of cases presented in 1863, were rejected than the above tabular statement would indicate without this explanation.
It will be seen that the revenue of the office for the year, has not been quite equal to its outlay; but it will also be seen, that the difference is so small as to be merely nominal. That amidst all the excitements and embarrassments of the times and in view of the enormous cost of stationery and other indispensable things required by it, in the transaction of the business with which it is charged, the Patent Office has been forced to draw from its surplus fund less than one hundred dollars, in a whole year's operations, is a result that could hardly have been expected; and further evidence is afforded by the gratifying fact, of the strong tendency and devotion of our people to the cultivation of the arts and sciences.
The fact also demonstrates the ability of the office to sustain itself with ease in a time of peace, with a tariff of fees greatly below the standard now fixed by the statute. The marked diminution of receipts during the last quarter, alone defeated the pleasing hope until then entertained, that the operations of the year would show an addition to, and not a subtraction from, the amount in the treasury belonging to the patent fund at the commencement of the year. The expression "belonging to the patent fund," is used advisedly.
The patent fund is set apart by the act establishing the Patent Office for the exclusive use and benefit of that office. It does not belong to the general treasury, and cannot be applied by the Government to the purposes of the general treasury. As a different impression prevails in many quarters, it will not be out of place to quote those clauses in the law on which this opinion rests; and to say that the Secretary of the Treasury is in accord with the commissioner in the construction as above given to these clauses. Section 23, of the act of May 21st, 1861, is in these words:
"That all moneys paid into the treasury of the Confederate States for patents, and for fees for copies furnished by the Commissioner, shall be carried to the patent fund created by this act, and the moneys constituting said fund shall be, and the same are hereby, appropriated for the payment of the salaries of the officers and clerks provided by this act, and all other expenses of the Patent Office, including all the expenditures provided for by this act; and also for such other purposes as are or may be hereafter specially provided for by law. And the Commissioner is hereby authorized to draw upon such fund, from time to time, for such sums as shall be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this act, governed, however, by the several limitations herein contained."
And section 48, of the same act, enacts further:
"That all money received by the commissioner, under this act, shall be, by him, paid into the treasury, and shall constitute a fund for the payment of the salaries of officers and clerks herein provided for, and all other expenses of the Patent Office, and to be called a patent fund."
The Patent Office has been in operation since the 22d of May 1861, and the occasion is not inappropriate to explain the manner in which, under authority and by direction of existing laws, it endeavours to carry into effect, or, more properly, has carried into effect, the constitutional provision in behalf and for the benefit of inventors. Innovation and change have infinite charms to the imaginations of many persons, and it is not, therefore, at all surprising, that there are those who advocate the policy of changing the Patent Office, as at present organized and administered, into an office of record simply, in which any inventor or discoverer, putative or real, may file his specifications and claim of invention, and demand a patent. The advocates of such a change fondly, but delusively, suppose that litigation about patents will thereby be diminished, and that more effectual protection will be afforded to the purchasers of patented articles than is enjoyed by them under present laws. After explaining the working of the Patent Office, as now ordered, it may be well, therefore, briefly, to point to a few of the objections that lie against this scheme, and thus show the evil effects that would follow its adoption. The discussion may be useful and can do no harm.
The Constitution of the Confederate States in article one, section eight, gives to Congress the power "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing, for limited times, to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries," and in the same section the further power is granted "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." In conformity with these constitutional provisions, Congress deemed it necessary and proper to pass an act, entitled "An Act to establish a Patent Office," etc., approved May 21st, 1861, and by authority of this act the Patent Office was duly organized. The Patent laws of the Confederate States are substantially the same as those that were enacted by the Congress of the United States, on the 4th of July, 1836, and which have been in force in that country ever since. The system in operation under our own law, as well as that which has prevailed in the United States subsequent to the passage of the above-mentioned act, contemplates that previous to the granting of a patent, or the rejection of an application, a rigid and thorough examination shall be made to ascertain whether the specifications, drawings and model, which the law requires to be filed by the applicant, as part of his application are in proper form; and whether the description in the specifications and the representation upon the drawings and in the model correspond in every material part. The applicant is also required, before the case is decided upon its merits, to limit his claim to a specific and succinct statement of what he alleges to be his invention, or, in the words of the statute, to particularly specify and point out the part, improvement, or combination which he claims as his own invention or discovery."
The precise adjustment of these points is of the highest importance to the inventor as well as to the public. A patent is a grant by the Government to the inventor, of the exclusive right for a term of years of practicing his invention, in consideration of which he gives to the public the benefit resulting from that invention, either during the existence of the grant, or after the expiration of the patent, when the invention becomes the property of the public at large. The specifications should, therefore, clearly describe, and the drawings and model should fully and exactly represent the invention of the applicant in all its parts, in order to determine with precision the extent of the right secured to the patentee, and protect him against infringement; and also to enable the public to make and use said invention after the expiration of the patent right.
After matters of mere form and description are thus disposed of, the application is examined upon its merits, in order to determine whether the supposed invention "had not been invented or discovered by any other person in this country prior to the alleged invention or discovery thereof by the applicant," or whether "it had been patented or described in any printed publication, in this or any foreign country, or had been in public use or on sale, with the applicant's consent or allowance, prior to the application." In the examination instituted in obedience to the above direction, the law and the facts bearing upon the case are carefully weighed and considered; and if the novelty of the thing claimed is fully substantiated, and its utility manifest, a patent is allowed. But if, on the contrary, it appears that the alleged invention or discovery has been previously known or used, or patented or described in a printed publication, a patent is refused, and the reason of such refusal is communicated to the applicant, who, on renewing his oath, may require that his case be re-examined. If on the second examination, the case is again rejected, the applicant may appeal to the Commissioner, and from the Commissioner to the Attorney General. In the last resort he may take his case to a Confederate States District Court, and thence, by writ of error or appeal, as the case may require, if the decision be adverse to him, to the Supreme Court of the Confederate States. Thus it will be seen, that if the applicant be entitled to a patent, he cannot fail to succeed in securing his right, if not in the first instance, at least on appeal. This searching precedent examination protects the inventor against litigation arising from conflicting claims, because patents are refused to all applicants whose claim to priority is not established. Hence two patents covering the same invention, and containing the same claim, can never be granted. Inventors are generally poor men, and it would be a manifest hardship as it would be palpably unjust, to expose them to a risk of expensive litigation, by allowing every pretender to obtain a patent under a different rule. Without this system of examination, the patent law would protect the piratical impostor equally with the meritorious inventor. But the patent system protects not alone the true inventor, it also guards the public against fraud and imposition.
A patent being a grant to an exclusive right to practice an invention for a term of years, it necessary precludes the public from infringing upon that grant. But if every impostor who claims to be an inventor may take out a patent, the effect of such a dispensation of the patent law, would deprive the true inventor of such protection, and at the same time be highly prejudicial to the interest of society; for, if that which is claimed to be an invention has been previously known and used, and a patent is issued on the demand of an applicant covering such invention, the public is unjustly deprived by the action of the law, of the property common to all; and the law, which should be the foundation of justice, would give its sanction in the most solemn form, to fraud, oppression and usurpation.
It is true the courts of the country might be appealed to, if provision were made to that effect, and a patent obtained under false suggestions might be declared invalid; but here the objection may be urged with still greater force, that such a latitude in the granting of patent rights would lead to the most harassing and ruinous litigation. If patents were issued to every applicant without previous examination, so as to arrive at a just conclusion with reference to the novelty and utility of an invention, the spurious inventor would, through the instrumentality of a formal grant from the Government, impose upon the public by selling to innocent purchasers the right to use articles of common, if not general, use, and to which he had no more right than another individual in the community.
The law would thus be made instrumental for the perpetration of fraud, which ought to be avoided, if possible, by restricting the grant of a patent to the true, or original, and first inventor only. The plan of granting patents to every applicant without examination as to the novelty of the invention, is adverse to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, which, in its intent and purport, contemplates the securing of an exclusive right for limited times, to inventors, and not to charlatans and pretenders. The constitutional provision is only complied with by first ascertaining, as far as this can be done, who is really an inventor. Nor is it any answer to this argument, that the Confederate States Patent Office is without the necessary books of reference and other data, to enable it to determine this question in every instance correctly, and that it is consequently obliged sometimes to allow a patent to issue for an invention that is not new. The evil is comparatively small, and the remedy will come with the other blessings which a peace will bring to us.
By making the Patent Office an office of record merely, patents would be granted to all applicants indiscriminately, and endless confusion, conflict and litigation, would inevitably result. Nor is such a system new. It was tried under the act of April 10, 1790, and the act of February 21, 1793, in the United States, but was found utterly insufficient to accomplish the objects of the constitutional provision which is the same as ours. The defects of these laws were remedied by the act of July 4, 1836, of which our law, excepting some amendments, is substantially a transcript. The object and end of this law is to secure the exclusive right to practice an invention to the original and first inventor, and it has produced the most magnificent results in its practical operation in the United States. It encouraged the meritorious inventor, and stimulated the mechanical genius of that country to such a degree, that in the development of mechanical skill and the practice of the useful arts, the people of the United States entered into successful competition with the people of France and England, almost from the very day of its enactment. It was by Virtue of the protection guaranteed by this law to the true inventor, that the electric telegraph, the reaping machine, the sewing machine, and many other equally valuable labor and time-saving machines, were created and given to man. And even within the short period that has elapsed since the organization of the Confederate States Patent Office, the present law has been in successful operation, and notwithstanding that the minds of our people have been diverted from the pursuits of peace, and a majority of our thinking men have been in the army, and hence removed quite away from the walks of invention, it is not too much to say that it has earned some little measure of reputation as a useful and meritorious establishment.
In a new country like our own, just starting out on a new and independent career of national life, it would, indeed, be a hazardous experiment to open the door of legal protection to every impostor whose object it is to crush the well-deserving and ingenious inventor, who has devoted his means and his intellect to the improvement of the arts, which are so conspicuously and intimately blended with all that pertains to modern civilization, and wrest from him, by falsehood and cunning, the earnings of his labor and the fruits of his toil.
Finally, to make the Patent Office a mere office of record, would be as unjust as it would be impolitic. It would invalidate, to a great degree, the vested rights of our citizens who have acquired patent rights under the old government, as well as under the Government of the Confederate States. It would bring into competition with them thousands of unscrupulous adventurers and speculators, who have nothing to lose and all to gain; and the flood gates of litigation would thus be thrown open to dishearten the true inventor, and check if it did not wholly arrest, all further development and progress in that useful and beneficent field in which our people have already entered with so much zeal, and with such fair promises of success. In considering this subject, the fact has not been overlooked, that in England the patent office is attached to the Court of Chancery, and is an office of record only.
But in England the mechanic arts have already attained a high degree of perfection, and need but little encouragement and protection from the Government. Litigation is also, to a great extent, prevented by the exaction of the enormous fee of five hundred dollars from every applicant for a patent -- another object being to swell the revenue of the Government. But although, owing to this expedient, applications for patents are rarely filed, except for inventions of great value, and impostors are restrained from seeking conflicts with other patentees, the system has been found oftentimes to work real injustice.
Some of the most distinguished laborers in the cause of science, whose names adorn the history of England, were sufferers from the operation of the very law that should have protected them. The disheartening vexations and losses to which the celebrated James Watts was subjected, whilst devoting himself to the improvement of the steam engine, in consequence of the facility with which patents were granted to others for inventions clearly his own, will be remembered as shamefully illustrating the imperfections of the English laws.
But the restrictive expedients against the granting of patent rights, which obtain in England, could not be adopted in this country. The exaction of unreasonable fees from inventors would not only be unjust; it would also be unconstitutional. The Confederate Government has no right to tax one class of the community for the purpose of raising revenue for the benefit of all other classes; for taxation, declares the Constitution, must be uniform. The fees paid by inventors, under the present law, are intended only to sustain and support the Patent Office; an institution established for the exclusive benefit, in the first instance, of inventors, and they are not intended to be, and ought not to be, a source of revenue to the Government. The payment of prohibitory or restrictive taxes in the form of large fees by inventors, in a country where invention is still in its infancy, and needs the most kindly fosterage and encouragement, would assuredly be attended with the most disastrous results. It would crush to death all disposition and effort on the part of our people to cultivate natural philosophy and the kindred arts and sciences, and place them, after the war, in the same position of helpless dependency to our bitter foes which they held before the war, and force us once more to look to these enemies for nearly every appliance of comfort and convenience required in the economy of the humblest home in our land.
Reverting for a moment before closing this report, to the subject of the finances, it is, perhaps, proper to say, that unless the enemy shall speedily be driven back, and the area of our territory that is in communication with the seat of the Government shall be thus enlarged, it can hardly be expected that a considerable falling off of revenue will not take place during the present year. Nevertheless, there are good grounds for believing that the Patent Office will continue to sustain itself as hitherto, without any assistance from the Government.
RUFUS R. RHODES
Commissioner of Patents
Report for 1864
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 26, 1865 -- Laid on table and ordered to be printed.
[By the chair]
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS
January 26, 1865
Confederate States Patent Office
Richmond, January, 1865
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In obedience to the requirements of the 23d section of the act establishing the Patent Office, approved May 21, 1861, I have the honor to lay before Congress the annexed list of all the patents that were granted during the past year, so classified as to exhibit, under the proper heads, the subject of each patent; also, an alphabetical list of the patentees,with their places of residence, and a list of the patents that have become public property, in consequence of the failure of the holders thereof to pay the fee required by the statute, at the end of three years from the issue of such patents.
The expenditures of the office during the year were nine thousand eight hundred and nine-six dollars and twenty-two cents -- the receipts twenty-seven thousand one hundred and ninety-two dollars and thirty two cents; excess of receipts over expenditures seventeen thousand two hundred and ninety six dollars and ten cents. When to this is added the balance on hand on the 1st of January, 1864, to wit, two thousand five hundred and eight dollars and twelve cents, it will be seen that there is now a surplus in the treasury, to the credit of the Patent Fund, of nineteen thousand eight hundred and four dollars and twenty-two cents.
Balance from January 1st, 1864 to Jan 1st 1865 27,192.32
Balance in the treasury January 1st, 1864 2,508.12
Expenditures from January 1st, 1864, to
January 1st, 1865 9,896.22
Balance in treasury January 1st, 1865 $19,804.22
Notwithstanding the above favorable exhibit, it is believed to be advisable, in view of the depreciation of the currency, and for other reasons that need not be specified, to increase the fees that are payable to the office at least one hundred and fifty percent; and it is accordingly respectfully recommended that this be done by special enactment. Inventors, who pay the fees, will not object to such increase. Authority should also be given to the commissioner to allow a greater rate of compensation for copying than can be done under existing laws. The present rate, ten cents for each hundred words, is so low that great difficulty has been experienced for several months past in securing the performance of this kind of work.
RUFUS R. RHODES
Commissioner of Patents
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