Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1876

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled:

In compliance with section 494 Revised Statutes, I submit the following report for the year ending December 31, 1876.

1.  Statement of moneys received

Amount received on applications for patents, reissues, 

  designs, extensions, caveats, disclaimers, appeals 

  and trademarks                                      $673,675.00

Amount received for copies of specifications, 

  drawings, and other papers                            53,621.10

Amount received for recording assignments               19,353.62

Amount received for subscriptions to the Official 

  Gazette                                                7,717.93

Amount received for registration of labels               3,620.00


    Total                                              737,987.65


2.  Statement of moneys expended

Amount paid for salaries                              $425,930.02

Amount paid for photolithographing current issues       27,777.95

Amount paid for photolithographing back issues          73,054.33

Amount paid for illustrations for Gazette               35,619.46

Amount paid for tracings of drawings                    31,978.77

Amount paid for contingent and miscellaneous expenses, 


Stationary                                  $9,166.37

Painting, glazing, varnishing, 

  upholstering, etc.                           690.05

Furniture, carpets, etc.                     3,214.34

Fitting up cases in model rooms, 

  carpenter's work, and repairing furniture  8,166.11

Plumbing and gas fitting                       113.30

English patents and foreign periodicals      1,359.15

Hardware                                       428.80

Pay of temporary clerks                     26,141.96

Miscellaneous items, viz:  Books for 

  library, ice, subscriptions to journals, 

  freight, washing towels, withdrawals, 

  money refunded paid by mistake, repairing 

  carriage and harness, keeping horse, 

  advertising, printer's material, rubber 

  stamps, drawings instruments, cleaning 

  carpets, paste, etc.                       8,901.99

                                           ___________  58,182.07


   Total                                              $652,542.60

3.  Statement of the balance in the Treasury of the 

United States on account of the patent fund

Amount to the credit of the patent fund 

  January 1, 1876                                     $886,909.62

Amount of receipts during the year 1876                757.987.65


    Total                                            1,644,897.27

From which deduct expenditures for the year 1876       652,542.60


    Balance  January 1, 1877                          $922,854.67

4.  Statement of the business of the Office for the year 1876

Number of applications for patents during the year 1876    21,425

Number of patents issued, including reissues and designs   15,595

Number of applications for extension of patents                 2

Number of patents extended                                      3

Number of caveats filed during the year                     2,697

Number of patents expired during the year                     814

Number of patents allowed but not issued for want of 

  final fee                                                 3,353

Number of applications for registering of trademarks        1,081

Number of trademarks registered                               959

Number of applications for registering of labels              650

Number of labels registered                                   402


    Of the patents granted there were to --

Citizens of the United States                              16,239

Subjects of Great Britain                                     511

Subjects of France                                            104

Subjects of other foreign governments                         172


    Total                                                  17,026

5.  Number of patents, trademarks, and labels issued by the 

United States Patent Office to residents of the different States,

Territories, from January 1, 1876, to December 31, 1876.

[The proportion of patents, etc., to population is shown in last 


States, etc.              No. of     One to 

                          patents    every

Alabama                        46     21,673

Arizona Territory               2     20,855

Arkansas                       23     21,664

California                    423      1,376

Colorado                       21      2,246

Connecticut                   736        730

Dakota Territory               10      4,050

Delaware                       35      3,572

District of Columbia          197        668

Florida                        22      8,556

Georgia                        63     18,795

Idaho Territory                 5      4,116

Illinois                    1,298      1,957

Indiana                       425      3,954

Iowa                          425      2,810

Kansas                         83      4,498

Kentucky                      163      8,104

Louisiana                     107      6,793

Maine                         178      3,522

Maryland                      273      2,860

Massachusetts               1,587        918

Michigan                      426      2,787

Minnesota                     164      2,720

Mississippi                    42     19,712

Missouri                      423      4,069

Montana Territory               3     13,298

Nebraska                       40      3,233

Nevada                         21      2,796

New Hampshire                 106      3,003

New Jersey                    685      1,323

New Mexico Territory            1    111,303

New York                    3,914      1,121

North Carolina                 51     21,007

Ohio                        1,195      2,230

Oregon                         24      4,245

Pennsylvania                1,895      1,859

Rhode Island                  231        941

South Carolina                 31     22,761

Tennessee                     107     11,762

Texas                         108      7,582

Utah Territory                 14      7,113

Vermont                       111      2,978

Virginia                    1,145      8,449

Washington Territory            5      7,486

West Virginia                  54      8,185

Wisconsin                     303      3,515

Wyoming Territory              10      1,151

United States Army              7        ---

United States Navy              1        ---

United States in general   16,239      2,398

6.  Comparative statement of the business of the Office from 1837 to 1876, inclusive.

Years Applica- Caveats Patents   Cash        Cash        Surplus

       tions    Filed  Issued   Received    Expended

1837                     435  $29,289.08  $33,506.98            

1838                     520   42,123.54   37,402.10   $4,721.44

1839                     425   37,260.00   34,543.51    2,716.49

1840     765    228      473   38,056.51   39,020.67

1841     847    312      495   40,413.01   52,666.87

1842     761    391      517   36,505.68   31,241.48    5,264.20

1843     819    315      531   35,315.81   30,766.96    4,538.85

1844   1,045    380      502   42,509.26   36,244.73    6,264.53

1845   1,246    452      502   51,076.14   39,395.65   11,680.49

1846   1,272    448      619   50,264.16   46,158.71    4,105.45

1847   1,531    553      572   63,111.19   41,878.35   21,232.84

1848   1,628    607      660   67,576.69   58,905.84    8,670.85

1849   1,955    595    1,070   80,752.78   77,716.44    3,036.54

1850   2,193    602      995   86,927.05   80,100.95    6,816.10

1851   2,258    760      869   95,738.61   86,916.93    8,821.68

1852   2,639    996    1,020  112,656.34   95,916.91   16,739.43

1853   2,673    901      958  121,527.45  132,869.83

1854   3,324    868    1,902  163,789.84  167,146.32

1855   4,435    906    2,024  216,459.35  179,540.33   36,919.02

1856   4,960  1,024    2,502  192,588.02  199,931.02

1857   4,771  1,010    2,910  196,132.01  211,582.09

1858   5,364    943    3,710  203,716.16  193,193.74   10,592.42

1859   6,225  1,097    4,538  245,942.15  210,278.41   35,663.74

1860   7,653  1,084    4,819  256,352.59  252.820.80    3,531.79

1861   4,643    700    3,340  137,354.44  221,491.91

1862   5,038    824    3,521  215,754.99  182,810.39   32,944.60

1863   6,014    787    4,170  195,593.29  189,414.14    6,179.15

1864   6,972  1,063    5,020  240,919.98  229,868.00   11,051.98

1865  10,664  1,937    6,616  348,791.84  274,199.34   74,593.50

1866  15,269  2,723    9,450  495,665.38  361,724.28  133,941.10

1867  21,276  3,597   13,015  646,581.92  639,263.32    7,318.60

1868  20,420  3,705   13,378  684,565.86  628,679.77   52,866.09

1869  19,271  3,624   13,986  693,145.81  486,430.78  206,715.03

1870  19,171  3,273   13,321  669,476.76  557,149.19  112,307.57

1871  19,472  3,624   13,033  678,716.46  560.595.08  118,121.38

1872  18,246  3,090   13,590  699,726.39  665,591.36   34,135.03

1873  20,414  3,248   12,864  703,191.77  691.178.98   12,012.79

1874  21,602  3,181   13,599  738,278.17  679,288.41   58,989.76

1875  21,638  3,094  *16,288  743,453.36  721,657.71   21,795.65

1876  21,425  2,697  *17,026  757,987.65  652,542.60  105,445.05

Receipts and Expenditures

The above tables show a slight decrease in the number of applications for patents from the previous year, but an increase in the receipts of the Office. This small decrease in the number of applications for patents is easily accounted for by the financial depression of the country, the interruption of business called by the intense and long-continued heat of the past summer, the attention paid by inventors to the Centennial Exhibition, and the occurrence of the presidential campaign.

The increase in receipts over the past year, to the amount of more than $14,000, is due to other sources than the fees received with original applications for patents -- principally to amounts received for copies of specifications, drawings, and other papers, for recording assignments, for subscriptions to the Official Gazette, and the fees for registration of trademarks and labels.

The amount of receipts of the Office over all its expenditures was $105,445.05. This large surplus is gratifying evidence of the more than self-sustaining power of this Office, but I cannot refrain from adding that the fact is not entirely satisfactory to the great majority of inventors and owners of patents, the work in whose behalf would have been more thoroughly and promptly performed if a part of the above named sum could have been used for the employment of a larger force of skilled and efficient examiners and clerks. For instance, the receipts for copies and recording of assignments amounted to $72,974.72. The clerk-hire for these two items amounted to $41,280. Excess of receipts on these two items $31,694.72. Yet at times the Office, owing to the inadequate amount of help, has been weeks behind in furnishing copies of records needed immediately in pending suits and elsewhere, and in recording assignments which the law requires to be recorded in the Office within three months from the date thereof, or else holds void as to subsequent purchasers without notice.

To such an extent has work been thus delayed that attorneys in most urgent cases have been allowed to employ their own clerks in this work, the Office at the same time charging them the legal fees for the work which itself was unable to perform.

So, too, in the examining corps; 21,425 applications for patents have been distributed among ninety-six examiners, (reduced at the beginning of the present fiscal year to eighty eight.) This is an average of over two hundred applications a year to each examiner.

Assigning to the Principal Examiners, as it should be, the sole duty of supervising and revising the work of their subordinates, and the average number of applications to each examiner engaged in making searches becomes still greater. The consequence has been that most of the work has been hurriedly dispatched, and in some of the most important classes, comprising inventions most in demand in the manufactures and arts, been greatly delayed and the clerical force largely drawn upon to aid the examining corps.

Since the 1st instant work has greatly revived, and the indications are that it will be far heavier for the last six months of the present fiscal year than it was for the first six months. If so, the Office will be more embarrassed than ever in meeting the demands upon its clerical force. To prevent this I would recommend that an act be passed this session allowing the Commissioner, out of the receipts from these two sources for the balance of the fiscal year, to employ the temporary help necessary to fill the current orders for copies, etc., such temporary employees to be paid by the piece. A similar measure of relief has been recently proposed, I am informed, by the Land Office. I respectfully submit that it would be a wise policy to pay for copying of all records in this way. More than half of all appropriations for clerical help has been exhausted, and, owing to the depleted condition of the contingent fund, quite a number of temporary clerks have been dropped, and more will have to be.

The work of producing copies of drawings of back issues of patents when completed, so that each Examiner's room is supplied with a classified set of drawings of American patents, will, in addition to similar sets of foreign patents, enable the present force of Examiners to perform their work better and with dispatch; but until that time arrives the force should be maintained at its former number at least. I therefore earnestly recommend that the seven examinerships, dropped upon the 1st of July, be restored from the beginning of the next fiscal year. At the date mentioned the salaries which had lapsed by reason of said vacancies were being used to pay clerks of a low grade whose services were actually necessary for the performance of current work.

Printing of Specifications and Photolithographic Reproduction of Drawings

In June, 1871, the printing of specifications and drawings of the current issues of patents for use of patentees, the Office, and for sale, was commenced under the act of January 11 of that year. One hundred and fifty copies of each of the 75,000 patents issued since that time have been printed, amounting in all to more than eleven million copies. In the meantime, fifteen millions copies of drawings of patents issued prior to 1871 have been reproduced by the photolithographic process and six millions more are under way. Two hundred and forty thousand dollars has thus far been appropriated for this work of reproduction, and it is estimated that $40,000 more will cover the entire cost of completely finishing both the tracing and photolithographing work. If this amount should be appropriated, I think the whole work will be certainly finished by next January.

The receipts from sales of these copies of specifications and drawings now approximate $20,000 a year, and the demand is increasing. The original outlay at this rate will eventually be more than repaid. This work should be complemented by the printing of the specifications of 60,000 patents, of which only the original and one manuscript copy of each are in existence. It costs more than $10,000 a year to fill orders for copies of these manuscripts; and this amount is small compared to the value in time lost by the delay necessary in making the copies.

I estimate the cost of printing the specifications of these old patents to be about $200,000, and I earnestly recommend an appropriation of $50,000 to begin the work. The sale of copies at a little more than cost will certainly at last more than equal the original outlay.

The completion of these two great works, the printing of the drawings, and then the specifications of all the back issues of patents will be of incalculable benefit of the Office, inventors, manufacturers, and the public generally. Then, with a proper subdivision of classes of inventions, will the Office be enabled to make its searches with certainty and dispatch; and inventors and others will, it is estimated, at the very small average cost of eight dollars, (under a recent arrangement of subdivision of classes,) be enabled to obtain printed copies of all the patents relating to any one branch of the arts or sciences.

Official Gazette

The contents of this weekly publication, consisting of the latest decisions of the United States courts and the Patent Office on the great variety of questions constantly arising, relating to patent matters, the names of patentees, and trademark and label registrants, the description of the inventions patented and trademarks registered, and all similar announcements, are constantly attracting fresh attention and increasing the demand for the work. It affords a ready and expeditious means of communication to the world of the large and important transactions of the Patent Office. Some 1,600 copies of the Gazette are mailed weekly to public libraries, under the provision of the law which authorizes each member of Congress to designate eight public libraries in his State or district to receive it.

This supply will have to be discontinued to a smaller or greater extent, as the present amount now annually appropriated ($40,000) for this work is decreased. With this amount, the expenses connected with the publication of the Gazette are only comfortably met.

The paying circulation of the Gazette, at the minimum price of $5, is about 1,200 copies. I have no doubt a larger popular demand would be had for it if the subscription price was reduced, and I recommend that it be reduced to $2. Even at this rate, the paper and press-work would be more than paid for. The expense of preparation of the Gazette is the same whether a large or a small edition be printed.

A larger edition of the earlier volumes of the Gazette was printed than was required to supply the demand. These volumes (unbound) occupy considerable space in the Office, and the call for them at the present high price has practically ceased. Could they be offered at $1 per year, I think nearly the whole number might be sold.

Trade Marks and Labels

One thousand and eighty one trademarks and 650 labels were received for registration during the year. Of these 959 trademarks and 402 labels were registered. The fees from this source amounted to $30,855. The yearly expenditure for the examining and clerical work of this division was $4,570, or about one seventh of the amount of receipts. The excess of the receipts above the expenditures of this class for the past year thus amounted to more than the surplus of receipts covered into the Treasury from the entire Office in 1875, which was $21,795.65.

The fee required to accompany the petition for the registration of a trademark is $25. This is not returned if the registration is refused after due examination. If it were the intention of Congress in prescribing this fee that it should be simply sufficient to meet the expense attendant upon examination and registration, it will be clearly seen by the above statement of receipts and expenditures that the fee required is excessively large. But this matter, I am informed, has already been made the subject of a proposed bill by a committee of the House of Representatives.

The fee for recording the title of any printed label is six dollars. All the provisions of law relating to the recording in this Office of prints or labels are embodied in a section of the copyright law of June 18, 1874. A distinction between trademarks and "prints and labels for articles of manufacture" is there made, but not defined. But as a difference is made, both in the protection of law afforded to the proprietors thereof and the fees required from them, the office is compelled to make a technical distinction. This distinction, especially between trademarks and prints, is very often without a difference.

Neither is there any express provision of law authorizing the declaration of an interference to determine the priority of title between contesting parties to trademarks, as in applications for patents. But as the law directs the Commissioner not to register a trademark identical with another "appropriated to the same class of merchandise and belonging to a different owner," the Office has assumed the power to decide this question between opposing parties. It is highly desirable that legislation be had to clear up the difficulties above alluded to.

The law provides that citizens of foreign countries can register their trademarks in this Office when a similar privilege is afforded by those countries by "treaty or convention" to citizens of this country.

For some years, and until quite recently, it was the practice to record the trademarks of citizens of Great Britain, it being supposed that the commercial treaty of 1790 between that country and this extended the privilege to citizens of both countries. But upon being lately informed of its error by the State Department, registration of such trademarks has been refused. Great Britain, by act of Parliament, gives the privilege of recording trademarks there to aliens as well as citizens. I am informed that a bill has been proposed amending our statute in the respect mentioned and extending the privilege to all aliens whose countries by treaty or otherwise afford citizens of our country a similar privilege. I earnestly recommend the adoption of the measure as an act of justice and reciprocity.

The salary of the Examiner of Trademarks was reduced last year to below that of other Principal Examiners in this Office. In view of the many nice questions of law continually arising upon the rights of registrants, requiring legal qualifications and sound judgment to determine, the increasing work of this class and the extent of its receipts, I think it would be unjust to longer continue this discrimination.

Scientific Library

Section 486, Revised Statutes, provides that "there shall be purchased for the use of the Patent Office a library of such scientific works and periodicals, both foreign and American, as may aid the officers in the discharge of their duties, not exceeding the amount annually appropriated for that purpose." This provision has been on the statute books since 1870, but no appropriation for the purpose has been made during that time, and the accumulation of these very necessary books has been solely due to the small amounts that could be spared out of the contingent and miscellaneous fund. It is unnecessary to dilate upon the importance of having a full supply of scientific works to aid officers who are compelled daily to make searches into every art and every branch of science. Yet there are only about 23,000 volumes of such works upon our shelves.

The Medical Library of the Surgeon General's Office in one tenth of the number of years which the library of this Office has been in existence has acquired ten thousand more volumes than we possess. Besides, a very large number of the works we already have are practically inaccessible from he want of a catalogue, owing to the lack of means to employ clerks to make the same and have it printed. I renew the urgent recommendation of my predecessors for an appropriation of a few thousand dollars out of the surplus receipts of Office fees for the purposes mentioned.


About 175,000 models of inventions are contained in the model room. This supply is increasing at the rate of thirteen or fourteen thousand a year. A model is not only desirable to aid in the explanation of an invention upon the filing of an application for a patent, but is very valuable after the patent is granted, in enabling the courts and the Office to clearly interpret the terms of the patent when the same at times after may become the subject of litigation, or is sought to be re-issued to correct inadvertent errors in the original description and claims. Hence the necessity of preserving the models and keeping them intact. This is almost an impossibility at present, owing to the lack of accommodation. Three hundred and sixty two glass cases, containing from 450 to 1,600 models, according to size of the latter, with numerous shelves, are at present in use, into and upon which the models are crowded and piled upon each other. Immediate relief is necessary, and it is contemplated putting a number of them in the cases lately used at the Centennial upon tables placed in the halls. But the number of these is not sufficient to afford much assistance.

Two tiers of cases are ranged on either side of the halls, the upper tiers in galleries. In the fourth hall a gallery extends upon but one side. By completing the gallery upon the other side of this hall twenty four additional cases could be provided. This would meet the immediate demands of the Office by making some other disposition of models belonging to rejected applications, which the law permits the Commissioner to do after the applications have been rejected for a certain length of time. The estimated cost of the above additional gallery and cases is $12,000. I recommend an immediate appropriation of that amount to commence and complete part of the work this year.

Increased Accommodation

Additional room is needed in every part of the Office. This would be necessary should the work of the Office be decreased one third. But in view of the constant increase of work, additional room becomes an imperative necessity. Already the halls and alcoves of the buildings are used for shelves and cases, and a large number of clerks and employees are crowded into dark, damp, unwholesome rooms never designed for the purpose. A simple inspection of the building is all that is necessary to confirm this statement.

The Centennial

The display made at the Exposition by the Patent Office was creditable in every respect, and excited general attention. About 5,000 models of inventions, representing the leading branches of the arts and manufactures, were exhibited in suitable cases and properly labeled, the various publications of the Office were displayed, its practices fully explained to all inquirers, and copies of the Patent Laws and the Office Regulations and forms freely distributed. The knowledge of our patent system thus imparted to foreigners, and all others unable to visit Washington, has more than repaid the small cost attendant upon the representation. The exhibits were sent from and returned to the Office with scarcely any damage being suffered.

But the array of models, etc., made by the Patent Office at the Exposition was not needed to illustrate the value of our patent practice. The wisdom of that system was demonstrated in the most practical and triumphant manner in nearly every branch of that munificent enterprise. Not only the grand display of labor-saving machinery, but in the vast collection of manufactured articles, and even in the department of fine arts, were seen the fruits of that provision of our Constitution giving to Congress the power "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

Whatever persons may do in a "perfect state of society" in sharing without price the fruits of their labors with others, it must be apparent to the dullest observer that the wonderful growth of the useful arts in this country is due thus far to the protection given by our Government to the property in inventions, which is as sacred as any other class of property, and whose value is determined by the same general law of supply and demand.


It may be safely said that two thirds of the manufacturing interests of the country are based upon patents, and the welfare of all such interests are intimately connected with the welfare of the patent system. During the past seven years a larger number of applications for patents were filed and patents granted than during the entire seventy eight preceding years, reaching back to the enactment of the first patent law. The needs of the Office have advanced in proportion to this sudden and vast increase of work, but have been but partly supplied. Nay, in fact its already scanty force and accommodations have been actually reduced at a time when most required. If these vast interests and the future promotion of science and the useful arts are to be encouraged, a liberal recognition must be made of the wants of this Office.

The Examining Corps, the duties in which are the most arduous and exacting, comprises gentlemen of legal as well as scientific attainments. It should be reinforced by more of the same character. They should be relieved, by legislation, of continual embarrassment by reason of meager salaries and fears of removal incident to merely political changes. The Office would then be spared the continual loss of its most experienced and efficient men.

In conclusion, I would state that several of the recommendations herein made are repetitions in another form of the recommendations of my predecessors, and are made more and more urgent as time advances.

Respectfully submitted.
Wm. H. Doolittle
Acting Commissioner of Patents


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