REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS
United States Patent Office, January 31, 1855
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report for the year 1854.
The condition of the office at the present time, and also as compared with previous years, will be seen in a general way by reference to the following statements, numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4.
No. 1 Statement of moneys received at the Patent Office during the year 1854 Received on applications for patents, reissues, additional improvements, and extensions, and on caveats, disclaimers, and appeals $134,125.00 Received for copies, and for recording assignments 13,664.84 Amount reimbursed to patent fund, per act Aug 4, 1854 16,000.00 ___________ 163,789.84 No. 2 Statement of expenditures from the Patent Fund during the year 1854 Salaries $51,000.85 Additional compensation, per act April 22, 1854 (including six months in 1853) 8,827.59 Temporary clerks 32,750.86 Books for the library 3,772.28 Contingent expenses 32,339.78 Agricultural statistics, and purchase of seeds 2,838.00 Librarian 700.00 Payments to judges in appeal cases 475.00 Refunding money paid by mistake 302.00 Refunding money on withdrawals 34,139.96 __________ Total amount 167,146.32 __________ Excess of expenditures over receipts during the year 3,356.48 Excess of withdrawals this year over last 10,673.32 ========== No. 3 Statement of the Patent Fund Amount paid to the credit of the patent fund, January 1, 1854 $28,950.00 Amount paid in during the year 1854, including $16,000 reimbursed by the act of August 4, 1854 163,789.84 __________ 192,739.84 From which deduct Amount of expenditure during the year 167,146.32 __________ Leaving in the treasury January 1, 1855 25,593.52 ========== No. 4 Table exhibiting the business of the office for fourteen years, ending December 31, 1854 Years Applications Caveats Patents Cash Cash Filed Filed Issued Received Expended 1841 847 312 495 40,413.01 23,065.87 1842 761 391 517 36,505.68 31,241.48 1843 819 315 531 35,315.81 30,766.96 1844 1,045 380 502 42,509.26 36,244.73 1845 1,246 452 502 51,076.14 39,395.65 1846 1,272 448 619 50,264.16 46,158.71 1847 1,531 553 572 63,111.19 41,878.35 1848 1,628 607 660 67,576.69 58,905.84 1849 1,955 595 1,070 80,752.78 77,716.44 1850 2,193 602 995 86,927.05 80,100.95 1851 2,258 760 869 95,738.61 86,916.93 1852 2,639 996 1,020 112,656.34 95,916.91 1853 2,673 901 958 121,527.45 132,869.83 1854 3,324 868 1,902 163,789.84 167,146.32
From this last statement, it appears that 3,324 patents have been applied for within the past year, which is an increase of 651 over the applications of the previous year.
The number of patents issued in 1854 is nearly twice as great as in 1853.
The number of cases in the office awaiting examination on the first day of January, 1854, was stated, in the report of last year, to have been 582. Owing to an imperfect mode of computation, this number was found to be incorrect. An actual count showed that there were really 823 cases on hand and undisposed of at the commencement of the past year. That number is now reduced to 89, so that the work of the office can hardly be regarded as being at all behindhand. Applications are now acted upon with a very few days of being made.
The receipts of money from all sources, during the past year, amount to $163,789.84, and the whole expenditure has been $167,146.32. This exceeds the receipts by $3,356.48. Among the receipts is incurred the sum of $16,000, refunded to the Patent Office for expenses incurred, partly in 1853 and partly in 1854, for fitting up the rooms of the new building, and for other similar purposes, so that the revenue arising from fees alone in 1854 has been only $147,789.84. This falls short of the actual expenditure by $19,356.48.
This excess of expenditure has resulted, partly, from the additional compensation allowed by the act of 22d of April, 1854, to clerks and other persons employed in the office; in accordance with which, the sum of $8,827.59 has been paid during the past year, as appears from the foregoing statement No. 2.
The expenditures have also been very much augmented during the year by the necessity of repairing a large number of the models in the office, and also of cleaning, varnishing, and removing them to their new receptacles.
The crowded condition in which it has heretofore been necessary to place them had resulted in numerous and great injuries, which it was incumbent on the office to repair. They will be, in a great degree, exempt from such injuries in future.
But the largest item of extraordinary expenditure has resulted from the augmentation of force necessary to dispose of the accumulation of arrearages before mentioned.
The number of cases now on hand is less, by 734, than that which existed a year previous.
The fees of these 734 cases (amounting to more than $20,000) were received in 1853; the labor has been performed, and the expense incurred, in 1854.
The entire income which has resulted from all the cases disposed of during the past year, has been greater than the whole expenditure of that year.
It is, therefore, possible that the expenditures for the coming year may be nearly, or quite, equal to the expenditure, if rigidly confined to those things which are indispensably necessary. There are, however, some matters which, although not altogether indispensable, seem to commend themselves strongly to the favorable consideration of Congress, and which will call for some increase of expenditure in future. Among these may be reckoned, in the first instance, an increase of salary to some of the examiners. In the report for last year it was stated that the examining force had been augmented by placing an additional clerk in each of the examining rooms as a second assistant examiner. The dispatch of business in the office was much facilitated by this arrangement, which was, however, found inadequate to the rapid increase in the number of applications. It was therefore thought expedient to place several of the assistant examiners in charge of duties which had previously been entrusted only to the principal examiners.
Accordingly, on the first of April last, five of the assistant examiners were each entrusted with the charge of an independent examining desk; so that for nine months of the past year there have been eleven separate and independent examining rooms, with each an acting principal and assistant examiner. These assistant examiners who have thus been performing the duties of principals, and the clerks of the second class who have been acting as assistant examiners, seem to have just claims to be placed on a footing of equality, as to compensation, with others who are performing the same duties, and are subject to the same responsibilities. The necessary examinations cannot be made with proper promptness with a less force than ten principal and as many assistant examiners; and should the business of the office continue increasing, as it now promises, before the end of the present year we shall need twelve of each class of examiners. The number should, therefore, I think, be increased to that extent at once, or power given to the Commissioner so to increase it as soon as occasion requires.
The business of the Patent Office progresses, or lingers, in precise proportion to the efficiency of the examining corps. The increased expense of supplying a few additional examiners is trifling, in comparison with the advantage of having the business of examination dispatched in a few days after the application is made, instead of obliging the applicant to wait as many months for that purpose.
The report for the year 1853 was illustrated with wood engravings, which, though somewhat imperfect, are believed to have added much to the value of that report, by rendering it vastly more intelligible than it could otherwise have been made. Steps have more recently been taken to improve still further in this particular, by providing copperplate engravings for this purpose. A conditional contract has been made with a competent artist, which, if approved by Congress, will render the report for the year 1854 highly creditable to the office, and eminently useful to the public. I feel great confidence that the advantages resulting from these illustrations will fully justify the increased expenditure thereby rendered necessary.
The present rate of fees has been in existence for more than sixty years with but little variation. During that time the intrinsic value of money has been very essentially diminished. The labor and expense thrown upon the office has been more than doubled by the change which took place in 1836; and the additional compensation more recently provided for clerks and other persons employed in the office has still further contributed to swell the ratio of expenditure to that of revenue, and to call for a new tariff of fees, in order to prevent the necessity of curtailing the expenses of the office in a way which cannot but be prejudicial to the best interests of those by whom those fees will be paid.
It is believed that the inventors themselves would prefer a sufficient augmentation of the rate of fees, to enable the business of the office to be promptly and successfully conducted, rather than to save a few dollars at the expense of great vexation and delay in obtaining official action upon their applications for patents.
In my last annual report, the attention of Congress was invited to the consideration of the propriety of abolishing all discrimination in the rate of fees between citizens and aliens; subsequent reflection has only confirmed the opinion then entertained and expressed on that subject. Some of the beneficial results of the liberal policy then recommended in inducing a like liberality on the part of other nations, are already sufficiently obvious.
At the present time, the laws of Canada do not permit our citizens to obtain patents in that province under any circumstances; which causes great inconvenience and loss to our inventors. All machines invented here, can be made and used in Canada without any license from the American patentee; and the products of those machines can, with little trouble or expense, be brought into our markets to compete with like commodities manufactured here by persons who are obliged to pay for the right to use the patented machines for that purpose. This operates like a discriminating tariff against the home manufacturer, which cannot but be prejudicial to his interests.
Reliable information of a private character has, however, been received, to the effect that the Canadian Parliament is taking steps to remove this cause of complaint. A bill was introduced into that body at a recent session (which has been adjourned over to some time in the present month,) and is still pending, which contemplates allowing American inventors to obtain patents in Canada; and the only cause of doubt as to its becoming a law is believed to grow out of the enormous fee demanded by this office from all Canadian inventors. The proposed modification in our rate of fees, would doubtless be followed by the desired change in the Canadian law. This would remedy the difficulty complained of by our inventors above alluded to, so far as future patentees are concerned, and might perhaps do so in relation to patentees of a previous date.
It may be thought that we shall best attain our object by retaliatory measures. Such a course would be calculated to arouse angry and hostile feelings, rather than to lead to any final advantage to either party.
A course dictated by kindness and liberality, will soon dissolve the barriers which make nations strangers and enemies.
We can well afford to lead the way in a course of measures which will contribute no inconsiderable share towards rendering us and our Canadian neighbors practically one people.
I take the liberty of inviting the attention of Congress to the others matters treated in my report for 1853, to which I have nothing to add at present.
Very respectfully, yours, etc., etc.
Hon. Linn Boyd
Speaker of the House of Representatives