Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents to Congress for the year ending December 31, 1882

Laid before the House of Representatives by the Speaker February 3, referred to the Committee on Patents, and ordered to be printed

Department of the Interior
United States Patent Office
Washington, D.C., January 31, 1883

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

In compliance with the requirements of section 494 of the Revised Statutes, I have the honor to submit the following report of this Office for the year ending December 31, 1882.


Detailed statement of all moneys received for patents, for 

copies of records or drawings, or from any source whatever.

Applications (including caveats, trade marks, and disclaimers

    Cash received                         $842,148.00

    Cash refunded                            2,020.00


    Net Cash                               840,128.00

    Certificates of deposit                 55,622.00


        Total cash and certificates        895,750.00



    Cash received                           73,420.60

    Cash refunded                            1,814.45


    Net Cash                                71,606.15

    Certificates of deposit                  1,814.45


        Total cash and certificates         72,523.60


Recording assignments

    Cash received                           26,334.85

    Cash refunded                            1,319.30


    Net Cash                                25,015.55

    Certificates of deposit                    421.75


        Total cash and certificates         25,437.30


Subscriptions to Official Gazette

    Cash received                           12,973.50

    Cash refunded                              112.15


    Net Cash                                12,861.35

    Certificates of deposit                    204.20


        Total cash and certificates         13,065.55


Registration of labels

    Cash received                            3,061.00

    Cash refunded                              750.00


    Net Cash                                 2,311.00

    Certificates of deposit                    132.00


        Total cash and certificates          2,443.00



Cash received                             $957,937.95

Cash refunded                                6,015.90


Net Cash                                   951,922.05

Certificates of deposit                     57,297.40


    Total cash and certificates          1,009,219.45



Amount expended under the several appropriations from 

January 1, 1882, to January 1, 1883

Salaries             $520,948.94

Contingent expenses    29,739.40

Official Gazette       28,213.90

Photolithographing     54,453.91

Copies of drawings     45,461.72

Scientific library      5,049.80


    Total             683,867.67


Statement of contingent expenses in detail

Stationery and books                    $854.25

File holders                           1,502.85

Cardboard, etc.                        2,960.00

Furniture                              1,108.54

Hardware                                 722.06

Painting                                 402.00

Carpets                                2,605.46

Services                               5,069.24

Ice                                      685.19

Engraving and printing                   902.88

Desks, cases, and repairing            6,765.30

Tin shelves                              334.95

Washing towels, horse livery, paste, 

  lumber, telephone, winding clocks, 

  carriage and harness, and sundries   5,826.68


    Total                             29,739.40


Receipts over expenditures

Total receipts               $1,009,219.45

Total expenditures              683,867.67


    Receipts over expenditures  325,351.78


Statement of balance in the Treasury of the United States on 

account of the Patent fund

Amount to the credit of the fund January 1, 1882    $1,880,119.32

Amount of receipts during the year 1882              1,009,219.45


    Total                                            2,889,338.77

Deduct expenditures for year 1882                      683,867.67


Balance January 1, 1883                              2,205,471.10


Summary of the business of the office

Number of applications for patents for inventions          30,270

Number of applications for patents for designs                948

Number of applications for reissues of patents                304


    Total number of applications relating to patents       31,522


Number of caveats filed                                     2,553

Number of applications for registration of trade marks        796

Number of applications for registration of labels             532

Number of disclaimers filed                                    20

Number of appeals on the merits                               691


    Total                                                   4,592                                                           ______

    Total number of applications requiring investigation 

       and action                                          36,114


Number of patents issued, including designs                18,996

Number of patents reissued                                    271

Number of trade marks registered                              947

Number of labels registered                                   304


    Total number of patents granted & certificates issued  20,518

Number of patents expired during the year                   6,099

Number of patents withheld for non-payment of final fee     1,791

Patents issued

Patents issued to citizens of the United States, with the ratio 

of population to each patent granted

States and Territories    Patents   One to 

                            and     every


Alabama                       46     27,445

Arizona Territory              7      5,777

Arkansas                      53     15,141

California                   486      1,758

Colorado                      90      2,159

Connecticut                  794        782

Dakota Territory              26      5,199

Delaware                      34      4,310

District of Columbia         170      1,014

Florida                       18     14,977

Georgia                      124     12,430

Idaho Territory                4      8,152

Illinois                   1,422      2,164

Indiana                      613      3,064

Indian Territory               3         --

Iowa                         348      4,668

Kansas                       173      5,757

Kentucky                     196      8,462

Louisiana                     86     10,929

Maine                        157      4,133

Maryland                     272      3,433

Massachusetts              1,815        982

Michigan                     637      2,569

Minnesota                    187      4,175

Mississippi                   56     20,207

Missouri                     485      4,470

Montana Territory             20      1,957

Nebraska                      73      6,119

Nevada                        14      4,447

New Hampshire                 94      3,691

New Jersey                   835      1,354

New Mexico Territory           8     14,945

New York                   3,779      1,345

North Carolina                72     19,440

Ohio                       1,466      2,113

Oregon                        51      3,426

Pennsylvania               1,843      2,323

Rhode Island                 282        980

South Carolina                45     22,123

Tennessee                    109     14,140

Texas                        190      8,377

Utah Territory                18      7,997

Vermont                      100      3,322

Virginia                     117     12,928

Washington Territory          17      4,418

West Virginia                 59     10,428

Wisconsin                    356      3,695

Wyoming Territory              4      5,014

United States Army             7         --

    Total                 17,861

Patents issued to citizens for foreign countries

    Of patents issued to foreigners there were granted to 

citizens of --

Argentine Republic       1

Australia                5

Austria                 32

Barbadoes                1

Belgium                 11

Brazil                   1

Canada                 228

Central America          1

Chili                    2

Cuba                     7

Denmark                 10

England                309

France                 129

Germany                219

Hayti                    1

Holland                  2

India                    3

Italy                   20

Mexico                   3

New Zealand              1

Norway                   1

Peru                     1

Russia                  10

Spain                    1

Sweden                  10

Switzerland             35

West Indies              1


    Total            1,135

Comparative statement of the business of the Office from 1837 

to 1882, 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

1877  20,308  2,869   13,619   732,342.85  613,152.62  119,190.23

1878  20,260  2,755   12,935   725,375.55  593,082.89  132,292.66

1879  20,059  2,620   12,725   703,931.47  529,638.97  174,292.50

1880  23,012  2,490   13,947   749,685.32  538,865.17  210,820.15

1881  26,059  2,406   16,584   853,665.89  605,173.28  238,492.61

1882  31,522  2,553   19,267 1,009,219.45  683,867.67  325,351.78

It will be seen by the foregoing statement that the receipts of the Office during the year 1882 were $1,009,219.45, an increase of $155,553.56 over 1881; that the number of applications for patents, exclusive of trade marks and labels, was 31,522, an increase of 5,463 over same period; and that there was a general increase in the entire business of the Office.

An Increase of Force Necessary

The last appropriation provided for a considerable addition to the working force of the Office. Notwithstanding, however, this increase, which was made necessary in view of the growth of the business of the Office, some further addition should be provided for the next fiscal year, as the business so far during the present calendar year shows as great an increase over last year as that did over former years.

The addition to the examining corps necessarily brought in men unacquainted with the work of the Office. It was necessary to acquaint them with such work, and the Office is just beginning to feel the benefit of their service.

The increase in the number of cases received, as well as in the receipts of the Office, indicates a corresponding increase no only in the work of the examining corps, but in the clerical divisions. The records of the Office show that the work done by each of said divisions was largely in excess of that of any former year. The increase in the force must keep pace with the increase in the work; but I did not in my estimates for the next fiscal year deem it necessary to ask for an increase in the examining corps until it was shown that the present force was insufficient. While it is true that there are a large number of cases pending in the Office unconsidered, I am led to believe that, unless the increase of work is much greater in the next few months than it has been heretofore, it will be possible to bring the work up and keep it in proper condition.


While the increase in the force there should be an increase in the number of rooms for the use of the employees. At least thirty (30) more rooms should be provided for this bureau. Its work is now greatly retarded by the inconvenience to which its employees are subjected for want of proper room, and with the rapid accumulation of material and the necessity for its arrangement and storage, there must be an increase in room, or the inconvenience arising therefrom will continue to be very seriously felt.


No appropriation having been made for the abridgement of patents, that work was discontinued on the 1st of August last. The manuscripts prepared during the fiscal year 1881-1882 have been carefully arranged and stored. At some future time, I have no doubt, this work will be revived and completed. Under the appropriation made for this purpose I had nearly completed the abridgement of all patents relating to agricultural implements. Some provision should be made for the completion and publication of the work already done. I have so fully heretofore stated my views of the necessity of a classified abridgement of all the patents issued by this Office, that I deem it unnecessary to restate them or add thereto, further than to say that, where a bureau of Government is sustained by the receipts from particular classes of individuals, such classes should have furnished them all the information obtainable on the subjects in which they are interested. If this work were completed, not only would the Office be greatly benefited thereby, but the information, thus placed within the ready reach of every inventor, manufacturer, and user of articles, devices, and compositions of matter covered by patents, would be such as could not be obtained anywhere else. If the bureau were a burden to the Government because its receipts were less than its expenditures, such suggestions might be considered improper; but when its receipts are annually largely in excess of its expenditures, and its accumulations are more than two millions of dollars, it is difficult to understand why a work so much needed should be procrastinated.

Annual Reports

Section 494 of the Revised Statutes reads as follows:

The Commissioner of Patents shall lay before Congress, in the month of January, annually, a report, giving a detailed statement of all moneys received for patents, for copies of records or drawings, or from any other source whatever; a detailed statement of all expenditures for contingent and miscellaneous expenses; a list of all patents which were granted during the preceding year; designating under proper heads the subjects of such patents; an alphabetical list of all the patentees, with their places of residence; a list of all patents which have been extended during the year; and such other information of the condition of the Patent Office as may be useful to Congress or the public.

Section 481 of the Revised Statutes reads as follows:

The Commissioner of Patents, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, shall superintend or perform all duties respecting the granting and issuing of patents directed by law; and he shall have charge of all books, records, papers, models, machines, and other things belonging to the Patent Office.

It will be observed that under the latter section the Commissioner of Patents, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, performs all duties in relation to the granting and issuing of patents. Under the opinion of Attorney General Mac Veagh, dated August 20, 1881, which was adopted by the honorable Secretary of the Interior, the power thus conferred upon the Secretary of the Interior is held not only to relate to the ministerial duties of the Commissioner, but to his quasi judicial duties as well.

An annual report is required of the Commissioner by the Secretary of the Interior on or before the last day of October of each year, covering not only the subjects mentioned in section 494, but all other business pertaining to the Office. Inasmuch as the Commissioner discharges his duties under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, and is compelled to make report of his doings to him, I know of no reason why he, more than other heads of bureaus in this Department, should be required to make a report to Congress. It is true that the business of the Patent Office is different from the other bureaus of the Department, and is managed in a different way. Nevertheless, the Secretary of the Interior is equally responsible for its proper conduct, and has a right to hold, and does hold, the Commissioner responsible for the proper discharge of his duties in the same manner as other heads of bureaus.

The only difference between the report made to the Secretary and that rendered to Congress is, one covers the fiscal and the other the calendar year.

I recommend that so much of section 494 as requires the Commissioner of Patents to lay before Congress, in the month of January of each year, a report upon the matters therein mentioned, be repealed, and in lieu thereof it be provided that he shall make his report annually to the Secretary of the Interior, covering the same subjects, at such time as the Secretary may direct.

Appeals from the Commissioner of Patents

Sections 4911, 4912, 4913, and 4914 of the Revised Statutes read as follows:

Sec. 4911. If such party, except a party to an interference, is dissatisfied with the decision of the Commissioner, he may appeal to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, sitting in banc.

Sec. 4912. When an appeal is taken to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, the appellant shall give notice thereof to the Commissioner, and file in the Patent Office, within such time as the Commissioner shall appoint, his reasons of appeal, specifically set forth in writing.

Sec. 4913. The court shall, before hearing such appeal, give notice to the Commissioner of the time and place of the hearing, and on receiving such notice the Commissioner shall give notice of such time and place, in such manner as the court may prescribe, to all parties who appear to be interested therein. The party appealing shall lay before the court certified copies of all the original papers and evidence in the case, and the Commissioner shall furnish the court with the grounds of his decision, fully as set forth in writing, touching all the points involved by the reasons of appeal. And at the request of any party interested, or of the court, the Commissioner and the examiners may be examined under oath, in explanation of the principles of the thing for which a patent is demanded.

Sec. 4914. The court, on petition, shall hear and determine such appeal, and revise the decisions appealed from in a summary way, on the evidence produced before the Commissioner, at such early and convenient time as the court may appoint; and the revision shall be confined to the points set forth in the reasons of appeal. After hearing the case the court shall return to the Commissioner a certificate of its proceedings and decision, which shall be entered of record in the Patent Office, and shall govern the further proceedings in the case. But no opinion or decision of the court in any such case shall preclude any person interested from the right to contest the validity of such patent in any court wherein the same may be called in question.

Under the provisions of the foregoing sections, appeals are taken from the decision of the Commissioner of Patents to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. Section 481, (above quoted,) as construed by the Attorney General in the opinion referred to, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to review upon appeal the decisions of the Commissioner of Patents on all questions. In other words, two independent tribunals are now held to have appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the Commissioner of Patents on the same questions, and sometimes appeals are taken to one and sometimes to the other tribunal. It is manifest, I think, that no such inconsistency should long continue. Undoubtedly there should be an appellate tribunal, but there should be no uncertainty as to that tribunal. I think that the sections of law above quoted, providing for an appeal to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, should be repealed, and that it should be provided by statute that appeals from the Commissioner on all questions should lie directly to the Secretary of the Interior. Such is the practice in all the other bureaus of the Department, and there is no reason why an exception should be made of the Patent Office. More than this, the Secretary of the Interior is charged with the business of this Office, and patents are signed by him and countersigned by the Commissioner. The responsibility, therefore, in large part, is with the Secretary. In relation to the business of all other bureaus of the Department, it is contemplated that the same shall be commenced and completed under the supervision of the Secretary. The only exception to such rule is found in this Office, where appeals may be taken directly to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and the decision of that court is binding upon the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Patents. That there should be a provision in the law that said court, as a court of equity, may review the acts of any officer of this Department I do not question, but that it should review the decisions of such officers before they become final is anomalous. Under the opinion of the Attorney General, above mentioned, no decision of the Commissioner of Patents becomes final until it is directly or tacitly approved by the Secretary of the Interior. If the law remains as it now is, questions may arise applicable alike to different cases on which the court may put one construction and the Secretary of the Interior another.

For these and other reasons I recommend that the law be changed as above indicated, so that appeals on all questions shall lie from the Commissioner of Patents to the Secretary of the Interior.

Limitation of Patents

Section 4887 of the Revised Statutes reads as follows:

No person shall be debarred from receiving a patent for his invention or discovery, nor shall any patent be declared invalid, by reason of its having been first patented or caused to be patented in an foreign country, unless the same has been introduced into public use in the United States for more than two years prior to the application. But every patent granted for an invention which has been previous patented in a foreign country shall be so limited to expire at the same time with the foreign patent, or, if there be more than one, at the same time with the one having the shortest term, and in no case shall it be in force more than seventeen years.

The limitation of the terms of patents where the invention has first been patented in a foreign country has been a fruitful subject of discussion during the past year. Many ways have been suggested looking to the removal of the difficulties experienced under the limitation clause of the above section. The real difficulty in the case arises from the fact that while patents under our laws are issued for a definite term, under the laws of foreign governments they are issued for terms of different duration -- generally for a short term -- with the privilege of prolongation upon the payment of certain duties and proof of the use of the invention. I think that a patent issued by this Office should be for a definite term, no matter whether it be long or short, and should not be contingent upon the operation of the laws of any foreign government, nor the acts of any person. It is the theory of the present law, as it has been of the provisions of laws anterior to it, to provide that when a patent is issued for an invention which has first been patented in a foreign country it shall expire at the same time as the foreign patent having the shortest term to run. In other words, if an inventor has first patented his invention in a foreign country, he can only take a grant here for such length of time as his patent has to run there. This necessarily means that the term of his patent here is to be shorter than when the patent is first issued here. If this theory is still maintained, and I have no doubt that it will be, then I think a different term of less duration than where application is first filed here, should be prescribed. In England patents may be issued for fourteen years; in France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, fifteen years; and in other foreign countries for different terms. In either of the latter-named countries the patent may be for a short term and prolonged by the payment of duties, etc. Where the patent is issued for a short term and is prolonged the courts of the United States hold that the patent expires with the expiration of the short term, and does not continue for the prolonged term. These decisions of our courts, recently made, have brought special attention to this provision of the statute.

In October last Baron von Schaeffer, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Austria-Hungary, through the Department of State, called to the attention of this Department the fact that Austro-Hungarian patent holders, under the decisions of our courts, were liable to suffer great loss on account of the conditions upon which their patents were issued, and asked the equitable interference of the officers of this Government in their behalf. the executive officers of this Government are powerless to render any aid or assistance to such patent holders, except as they act under the provisions of law, and, as there is no law at present which gives them any authority to grant relief, they must necessarily wait until Congress shall take action upon the subject. These views were expressed to Baron von Schaeffer personally, and also in a communication for transmission to him. There is no way in which the difficulties can be remedied, except by legislation. Applicants who first file their applications for patents in this Office are sometimes put to great inconvenience because their patents issue under the laws of a foreign government before they issue here, and hence are necessarily limited so as to expire with the foreign patent.

It is impossible to fix a term which shall conform to the terms of patents issued by foreign governments, because the terms for which patents may issue under such governments are not the same.

On the supposition that the theory which has thus far controlled in matters of this character in the legislation of this country, that a short term should be allowed for a patent where the invention has first been patented abroad, would still be adhered to, in my annual report of October last to the Secretary of the Interior I recommended that a term of twelve years be prescribed for such patents, and that the applicant be permitted to file his application for patent at any time within two years after the date of his foreign patent. The reason for this recommendation was that in England a patent may issue for fourteen years, that being the shortest full term for which any foreign government issues a patent. If the patent is issued in England, and in other foreign countries, applicant may have two years in which to demonstrate its utility and practicability, and after it has been proved to be useful and practical, may file his application here and receive a patent for the term of twelve years, unless he has been anticipated by other inventions.

If the law be so amended so as to provide either a term of twelve, or any number of years for a patent for an invention first patented abroad, I think all the difficulties experienced will be removed, and greater certainty will be felt not only with the holders of patents, but with capitalists who invest their money in patent property.


Permit me again to call attention to the necessity of the publication of the illustrated portion of the reports of this Office for the year 1870. Without said illustrations the reports of the Office are incomplete; with them they would be complete. It is estimated that these illustrations can be reproduced by the photolithographic process at a cost not to exceed six thousand dollars. It is important, as I think all must concede, that the reports of the Office should be complete, and hence I recommend an appropriation of the sum of six thousand dollars for that purpose, to be immediately available.

I submit herewith a list of patents granted during the year 1882, arranged under proper heads, and alphabetical list of the patentees, with their places of residence.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant

E.M. Marble
Commissioner of Patents

Hon. J.W. Keifer
Speaker of the House of Representatives


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