Patent History Materials Index - Extracts relevant to patent history from Scientific American, volume 20 (new series)

Issue number 4, pages 57-8, 23 January 1869

We are now printing 35,000 copies of the Scientific American, and subscriptions are rapidly flowing in, from Maine to California -- from the Lakes to the Gulf. ....

Patent Office Contracts

Senator Ferry offered a resolution, which was adopted, directing the Secretary of the Interior to transmit copies of all correspondence between him and the Commissioner of Patents relating to the contracts and supplies of stationery for the Patent Office; also, copies of all orders of the Secretary appointing Committees to examine and report upon such contracts, with copies of the Committees' reports.

It appears that Commissioner Foote, having declined to pay the bills of the contractor, for furnishing stationery and bond paper for the Patent Office, on the ground that there was fraud in the contract, the Secretary of the Interior appointed a commission, composed of B.F. James, Norris Peters, and E.W. Griffin, principal examiners in the Patent Office, to inquire into the alleged frauds.

The charge is now made that these Commissioners were in collusion with the contractors, and that their report amounts to nothing. On the other hand, the Commissioners declare that they investigated the whole matter thoroughly and impartially, and came to the conclusion that the bills must be paid according to contract, unless fraud is shown.

According to the report a contract was made by a former Commissioner for 600,000 sheets of bond paper at eight cents per sheet. We understand that Commissioner Foote and the Printing Committee of the House have made investigations, and they are of the opinion that there are evidences of flagrant frauds.

It appears to us to require considerable charity to conclude that eight cents per sheet is a fair price to pay for ordinary bond paper. The transaction has about it a suspicious look, and we hope that the Commissioner will fearlessly carry on the investigation. The telegraph reports that Secretary Browning is dissatisfied with Commissioner Foote's action in this matter, and is making efforts to secure his removal. Browning is a queer fish, but we can scarcely believe that he wants to remove an official who undertakes to expose frauds. We shall see.


Issue number 8, page 121, 28 February 1869

How Contracts are Awarded -- Gross Frauds in the Patent Office

We recently alluded to the fact, that Commissioner Foote had called the attention of the Secretary of the Interior to the existence of certain frauds in the purchase of stationary for the use of the Patent Office, and of the appointment, by the latter functionary, of a Committee consisting of B.F. James, Norris Peters, and E.W.W. Griffin, attaches of the Patent Office, to investigate the matter. We have now before us the report of a Committee, appointed by the House of Representatives, to inquire into the particulars, from which it appears, that notwithstanding the existence of the most astounding frauds, Messrs. James, Peters, and Griffin, were not able to discover anything deserving of censure. The House Committee proceeded to unearth this contract system, and to expose the means by which the treasury of the Patent Office has been robbed of thousands of dollars; and surprise is naturally expressed by the Committee that this Commission, appointed to investigate the complaints made by Commissioner Foote, could find no evidence of abuse and fraud on the part of the contractors.

It appears that, instead of giving the awards to the lowest bidder, as the law requires, the contracts were given to the highest bidder, by an ingenious system of modern arithmetic, which would put to confusion primitive Nathan Dabol, of New London, who was accustomed to figure out his sums and carry out an honest multiple. Take for example the bid of Dempsey & O'Toole:

100,000 sheets bond paper, per sheet                    8

    124 reams cap paper, best quality, per ream        20

     12 gross barrel pens, per gross                    3

     10 Dozen fine pencils, assorted colors, per dozen  3


Total                                                  34

Coyle & Towers' bid:

100,000 sheets bond paper, per sheet                   $0.02 1/2

    124 reams cap paper, best quality, per ream         4.44

     12 gross barrel pens, per gross                    4.28

     10 Dozen fine pencils, assorted colors, per dozen  1.05


            Total                                       $9.79 1/2

Now it is very plain from the arithmetic of Dempsey & O'Toole, as above given, that they were the lowest bidders, to the extent of $9.45 1/2, but when the figures are fully carried forward, according to the multiplication tables of Nathan Dabol, the gross sum of Dempsey & O'Toole's bid amounted to $8,024.66, while that of Coyle & Towers was but $3,112.42. Yet, strange as it may appear, the learned mathematicians in charge of the Patent Office, awarded the contract to Dempsey & O'Toole for the enormous sum of 34 cents fractional currency. The Committee state that another method has been to have a good understanding at the source of orders, and have them shaped for your benefit, calling for few if any goods where you bid is below cost, and for large orders where the profits are large; to be sure and have a large stock of all such ordered at the close of your contract, and change your bidding next time, going below cost where you have overstocked. The great reliance for profits, however, is in the purchase outside the contract schedule. All articles not in the schedule are charged at fabulous prices though the contract provides they shall be furnished at the lowest market rates. A few very pertinent examples of this genteel system of contract robbery are furnished as follows: "Forty-six caveat books have been charged and paid for since February, 1868, at $40 and $41 each, while not one of them can be found in the office. This is a book of printed forms, which could be of no use outside the office, as testified by all parties. 518,000 printed blanks, consisting of letters, decisions, etc., were charged and paid for, when less than 200,000 could be accounted for by the requirements of the office. Of file-wrappers, 80,000 were charged and paid for at a cost of $57 per 1,000, and after making liberal estimates for those used and on hand, 18,000 cannot be accounted for, while the quantity on hand and used could not exceed 40,000. Of cards for models, 150,000 were charged and paid for at $40 per thousand, while but 40,000 can be accounted for as used and on hand, leaving 110,000 unaccounted for. The above articles could be of no use anywhere but in the legitimate business of the Patent Office, as sworn to by all parties.

"Vast quantities of other articles cannot be accounted for in the office; but as they might have been made useful elsewhere, may have been purloined. We give a few cases of the many in evidence: Of eyelets, 1,820 boxes were paid for, but only 390 boxes would be required for the business of the office; four and a half dozen press copy books bought and paid for, but none to be found; 890 sheets French tracing paper bought, seldom if ever used, and but twelve sheets on hand; 121 reams yellow envelope paper bought, but not over 10 1/2 reams can be accounted for; 1,000,000 envelopes paid for, while the uses of the office would amount to about 150,000. Of taffeta ribbon, 10,100 pieces were paid for, and 1,999 gross of rubber bands; and there was a like extravagance in the other articles.

"The prices charged were as extravagant as the quantities. We give a few cases: Books worth $9 are charged at $45; cash books, worth $5, charged at $25; cards, worth about $3 per thousand, are charged at $40; printing envelopes, worth about $2.50 per thousand, are charged at $20 and $40; ruling worth about $2.50 per thousand sheets, is charged at $50; printing 500,000 blanks, worth perhaps $2 per thousand, charged at $16.50 and $17.

The report states that these contractors have furnished 351,000 sheets of bond paper and been paid $28,080. Its highest testified cost was $7,020; add fifteen per cent for profit, $1,053, and you have $8,073. Deduct this from the amount paid and it leaves them over $20,000 above a fair profit on a bill of $28,080. Or, to state the transaction in a different way, $24,000 of this amount was advanced to the contractors for their business, which they were to cancel in paper at four times its cost, and this order is to pay them a further sum of $24,000 for what cost them $6,000.

We have not space for the full details printed in the Committee's valuable report, but enough is given to open the eyes of common understanding to the fact, that corruption of the worst forms have crept stealthily into the public service, and that the Patent Office has not been exempt. In view of this shameful exposure, who can wonder that the Patent Office has run $81,000 behind since July, 1867. Verily, in the inspired lamentations of Hosea: "Israel is an empty vine; he bringeth forth fruit unto himself." "The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it; the prophet is a fool; the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred."

Justice to Commissioner Foote requires us to state, that he has had nothing to do with making the contracts in question. On the contrary, the country owes him a debt of gratitude for his earnest efforts to expose and bring them to light.


Issue number 10, page 152, 6 March 1869

Patent Office Contract Swindle

We have before us a printed statement by Messrs. James, Norris & Peters [sic, actually James, Peters & Griffin], to explain their action as a Committee appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to examine into the truth of the charges made by the Commissioner of Patents in relation to the swindling stationary contracts to which we referred in a recent number. The committee attempt to exculpate themselves by referring to the peculiar order of the Secretary, which limited them to certain particulars and without the power to coerce the attendance of witnesses, or to put such as did appear under oath. As might be expected under such circumstances, the report of the committee amounted to nothing, and it was simply a waste of time to set them at work merely to find out that Ex-Commissioner Theaker, and Acting Commissioner Stout were paying Dempsey & O'Toole about the same prices for similar articles supplied by Philip & Solomon. The Committee did not go into an investigation of the market value of the articles supplied in the schedule. Neither did they undertake to find out that the articles had all been delivered. It seems to have been the intention of the Secretary of the Interior to make a farce of this investigation, and he appears to have known how best to reach that result.


Issue number 17, page 265, 24 April 1869

The Patent Office Before Congress Again

Mr. Jenckes, from the Committee on Patents in the House, recently endeavored to secure the passage of a bill appropriating $6,000 additional compensation for draftsmen, and $15,000 to enable the Patent Office to lithograph drawings.

Mr. Beck opposed these amendments on the ground that they had not been before the Committee on Appropriations. Mr. Scofield got considerably muddled about the proposition of Mr. Jenckes, and thought the latter gentleman desired to place this money in the hands of the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Patents, so that they could take it from year to year without coming to Congress and asking for appropriations.

Mr. Jenckes said "No sir!" Whereupon Mr. Scofield desired to have the amendment read by the clerk, and finding that he had got off the track, dropped quietly into his seat and said no more on the subject.

Mr. Dawes, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, seemed to understand the matter better, but opposed the measure for the same reasons as were given by Mr. Beck; but Mr. Dawes waxed wrothy, and charged that the Patent Office, though growing in importance every day, had been seriously crippled between thieves on the one hand and inconsiderate legislation on the other, but he was unwilling to vote for Mr. Jenckes' amendments simply because he considered it an irregular way to appropriate money; and furthermore he was unwilling to allow the amendment to be inserted in the deficiency bill in the last hours of a fragmentary session of Congress.

Mr. Ela favored the measure for the purpose of allowing the Patent Office to avail itself of the new process of photo- lithography, by which every examiner, and every other person who may wish, may have copies of the drawings which are annexed to specifications of patents at the very low rate of fifteen or twenty cents each. "I hold in my hand," he said, "copies of some of those drawings by this new process, which cost only about fifty cents, while by the old process of producing copies for presentation to the courts, or for any other purpose, they might cost anywhere from ten to one hundred dollars. I look upon it as one of the most wonderful inventions of the age, and it is of such importance to the Patent Office that I hope this House will not refuse to allow the Office to avail itself of its use. It will not only be a great saving to the Government, but it will also be of the greatest advantage to those who have dealings with the Patent Office. By this process we not only get perfect copies of these drawings, but they may be enlarged or decreased in size as those who need them may require.

Mr. Jenckes tried again to convince the House that his amendment was necessary in order to enable the Patent Office to carry on its work harmoniously and to meet the just demands of inventors, but Mr. Dawes was inexorable though confessing that he did not know what were the necessities of the Patent Office. he seemed to cast some blame upon the Commissioner of Patents for his (Dawes') ignorance, as the Commissioner had been called before the Committee on Appropriations in reference to the estimates for the coming year, "but they got no information from him, and they brought in their bill without the benefit of his experience or knowledge of the wants of that department."

Mr. Jenckes, in his anxiety to get the measure through, asserted that "the Patent Office must necessarily break down after the first of July next, unless some such legislation as he proposed was carried into effect. The announcement of such a calamity had no effect upon Mr. Beck. He was unwilling to throw open the flood-gates and permit the Commissioner of Patents to expend money when he chooses.

In connection with the discussion, Mr. Jenckes is officially reported to have stated that the receipts of the Patent Office this year will exceed the expenditures by more than $1,000,000, which seems to us almost incredible, as the monthly receipts since January have not averaged quite $60,000.

In spite of Mr. Jenckes' persevering efforts, however, the amendment was lost, and we must now look forward to the fulfillment of his gloomy prophecy,. We trust, however, that the Commissioner of Patents, upon whose shoulders appears to rest the responsibility, will take some active measures to avert the calamity.

And here we should like to inquire what is the matter with the representatives of the thriving little State of Rhode Island? Senator Sprague has recently uttered some dismal forebodings of evil to the country; and now Representative Jenckes predicts an utter breakdown of one of the most useful departments of the Government unless a few more thousands of dollars are appropriated towards it expenditures. We can assure our readers, however, that they need not fear any such calamity. The business of the Patent Office will go on, and as usual. The alarm sounded by Mr. Jenckes, however, will do no harm. It may serve to wake up the officials to a keener sense of their duties.


Issue number 17, page 265, 24 April 1869

An Important Office to Fill

To President Grant:

You have doubtless been reminded, ere this, that there now exists a $3,000 vacancy in the Board of Examiners-in-Chief of the Patent Office, and it is very likely that several worthy gentlemen have been suggested to you as proper persons to fill that vacancy.

We desire the place neither for ourselves nor for any relative or friend. We have never thought it desirable to urge the claim of personal friends for Patent Office appointments. But representing about one-third of the whole clientage of that Office, we claim a right to say something to you about the selection of a proper person to fill this important position. In the first place the interests of anxiously waiting appellants require that the vacancy should be filled with the least possible delay. The cases on appeal are rapidly increasing, the interests of inventors are suffering, and it is of paramount importance that this work should be immediately and energeticly reinforced. In the second place, and in view of the present composition of the Appeal Board, it is vastly important that the place should be filled by an active, vigorous expert, one who can grapple energetically with the many cases that now press the Board of Examination.

There are such men in the Patent Office -- they are to be found among the younger and more active employees. We beseech you to give us a man of energy, and to avoid filling the place by the appointment of some venerable gentleman who might better be placed on the retired list. The Patent Office is increasing in importance; its duties are now indifferently performed; there is already felt a lack of energy in the management of its complex details, therefore it behooves you to select an energetic man, one who can make himself felt in the discharge of his duties.

Very respectfully yours,

Munn & Co.


Issue number 17, page 265, 24 April 1869

Persons Unfitted for the Commissionership

There are, as usual, numerous applicants for the office of Commissioner of Patents, and all, or nearly all, are Solicitors of Patents. The attorneys for several of the mowing machines are especially prominent; the sewing machine patentees have their favorites, while india-rubber is content with the present state of things. Now, all these gentlemen may be worthy and competent; but we submit that they cannot be the proper persons to pass upon such questions as come constantly before the Commissioner of Patents. It is safe to say that there are no patent lawyers who are not pecuniarily interested in inventions, and a mere assignment of all such recorded interests would scarcely satisfy the public which sustains this important bureau of the Government. Aside from this, inventors would scarcely believe that a solicitor, who had for years been supported by the owners of a patented monopoly, would at once conquer the prejudices with which the earnest advocate is so apt to become imbued. The head of this department acts as a judge in suits of vast importance, and should be selected with a view to his judicial experience and acumen, as well as his executive ability; and not because of any part which he may have enacted in questions of priority and infringement.

We fully endorse the above from the New York Times of April 9th. A Commissioner of Patents should neither be a patentee, solicitor, or patent lawyer, but a man of good executive ability, and possessed of sufficient legal experience to weigh evidence and decide promptly in all cases that came before him. To this add honesty and energy, and you have all the requisites for a good Commissioner.


Issue number 20, page 313, 15 May 1869

A Reformation in the Patent Office

Secretary Cox enjoys the reputation of being a patriotic and incorruptible man. He has certainly given earnest proof of the possession of these sterling qualities by breaking up the villainous rings that so completely demoralized the service of the Indian Bureau.

In the selection, also, of Col. Fisher to occupy the important position of Commissioner of Patents, we are still further assured that Secretary Cox intends to put an end to imbecility and corruption in the management of the affairs of that Office. It has come to pass, somehow, that the Patent Office has fallen under suspicion. The misappropriation of the funds of the Office in barbaric decorations, Dempsey & O'Toole contracts, and other transactions of a somewhat doubtful character, served to justify Congressional interference. But worse even than these things is the current impression that the Patent Office had fallen into the hands of a corrupt clique who molded the decisions of the Office to suit their own interests. We cannot say that this suspicion was justly founded, but we do know that its general influence upon the character of the office has been pernicious in the extreme. It is also well known that certain parties about the Patent Office have hitherto been too much in the habit of claiming a sort of paternity to the Commissioners, as if they were merely creatures of their breath. This may have been merely a vain and innocent conceit; but such things tend to degrade the character of the Commissioner of Patents and expose him to unjust suspicion.

Col. Fisher is indebted to none of these parties for the position he now holds. It is well understood that other candidates were urged by them, they knowing probably full well that should Col. Fisher get the appointment he would be fully competent to undertake all the duties of the Office without their intrusive advice, and moreover his character was a sufficient guaranty that corrupt rings could not bind his independent action. We feel encouraged, therefore, that brighter days are in store for the Patent Office, and that the new Commissioner will fully justify the confidence reposed in him.


Issue number 21, page 329, 22 May 1869

Affairs at the Patent Office

Commissioner Fisher takes hold of the affairs of the Patent Office with an earnest purpose to effect a speedy reform of past abuses. He recently invited the Examiners and Assistant Examiners to his room, where some time was spent in interchange of views regarding the business of the office as it relates to the examination of cases, and he proposes to dispense with some of the present useless forms, in order to facilitate the procuring of patents. The Commissioner gave some opinions for the guidance of the Examiners, in order to secure more uniformity in the general practice of the office.

The following removals were made -- viz., N. Peters, Examiner; D. Curle and C.L. Coombs, First Assistants; T.H. Sypherd, Second Assistant. Appointments were made as follows: John C. Tasker and George A. Nolen to be Examiners.

Mr. Tasker is a native of New Hampshire, and is a skilled and educated mechanic. He was, for several years, in charge of some of the most extensive works at Lowell, Mass; for the past three years he has held a position as First Assistant in charge of the classes of wood working and of metal casting, and is said to be admirably qualified for his new position. Mr. Nolan is a native of Massachusetts; was educated at Yale College, where he graduated with high honors, and was for some three years a tutor of mathematics and natural philosophy. He has been in the Patent Office as First Assistant about three years, and will make a most satisfactory Examiner.

J.W. Abert and J.H. Hawkes have been appointed First Assistant Examiners; James Lupton and F.S. Lawson, Second Assistant Examiners. James Newlands and D. Wilson have been promoted from Second to First Assistant Examiners. W.A. Gutplim and A.R. Robinson have been promoted from temporary clerks to be Second Assistant Examiners. Michael Marley has been appointed chief Messenger in place of Chas. W. Thomas, resigned.

We are assured that these appointments will reflect credit upon the Commissioner and the Secretary of the Interior.

Commissioner Fisher has granted an extension to M.M. & J.C. Rhodes for their patent for a machine for leathering the heads of tacks. In the testimony taken in the case it was shown that over six millions of this style of tax were used in the United States daily.

An interference case of some importance, in relation to a device for sharpening millstones, has also been decided by the Commissioner. The parties who were immediately interested were J.F. Gilmore, of Providence, Ohio, who had secured a patent, and George Hermon, of Paris, France. The claims of Hermon were sustained.


Issue number 21, page 331, 22 May 1869

Commissioner of Patents

Grant is making many judicious appointments, but none more fit and appropriate than that of Col. S.S. Fisher, of Cincinnati, as Commissioner of Patents. Col. Fisher is one of the most able and successful patent attorneys in the country. He is the author of "Fisher's Reports," the only compilation of reports upon patent causes in any language, and he has been occupied exclusively in patent practice for many years. He understands all the ins and outs of the Patent Office; its uses, abuses, and greatest needs; and he will make his administration illustrious by instating the Patent Department upon broader and higher grounds than it ever before occupied.

It should be stated that Col. Fisher did not seek nor desire the office, and is obliged to make very great pecuniary sacrifices in receiving it. In this case, like many others under the present administration, the office sought the man, and we have no hesitation in saying that it sought and has secured the best man that could be found on the continent.

[We copy the above from the Sorgo Journal, published at Cincinnati, the home of Col. Fisher. It fully confirms all that we have said respecting him, and inventors have reason to thank General Grant for his careful consideration of their interests in making this selection.


Issue number 23, page 356, 5 June 1869

Patent Office Affairs

Commissioner Fisher has given his decision in the case of the Heck thread dressing patent, an extension of which was asked. The application was rejected on the ground that the invention was not new at the time the original patent was applied for, and that the patent should never have been issued.

Extensions have been granted in the following cases: Stevens, Crosby, and Pearson, of Boston, for a seed planter, Thomas J. Silsby, administrator of Arad Woodruff, of Boston, for an improvement in machinery for spinning; and to Thomas J. Knapp, for an adjustable tenoning tool.

The senior member of the Board of Examiners-in-chief, Mr. Hodges, who acts as Commissioner in the absence of that officer, has heard the argument and given his decision upon the following applications for extensions of patents: Jacob A. Connover, of New York, for a wood-splitting machine; George W. Brown, of Galesburg, Illinois, for a corn planter. Mr. Hodges in both cases granted the extensions prayed for. The Commissioner having been employed as counsel in lawsuits in which these parties were interested, left the office temporarily in the charge of Mr. Hodges, while these parties were before it. It was from parties interested in the latter case that the telegram was sent to Senator Trumbull to prevent Colonel Fisher's confirmation, stating that he was employed as counsel in five cases involving several millions of dollars.

F.W. Ritter has been promoted from a clerkship to Second Assistant Examiner, and assigned to Professor Hedrick's class of chemicals, and James Lupton, of Ohio, has been appointed second class clerk. Peter Nodine has been appointed machinist and superintendent of the model room, vice Cornelius Jacobs, removed.


Issue number 24, page 375, 12 June 1869

"What rubbish!" is frequently in the minds, and not seldom on the lips, of those who daily throng the galleries of the United States Patent Office at Washington. A very little reflection will show to what a limited extent these but too carelessly conceived thoughts, and these equally carelessly uttered words, are just.

On the 15th of December, 1836, the General Postoffice Building at Washington was entirely destroyed by fire. In the upper portion of this edifice the United States Patent Office then had its home; its scanty rooms being filled to confusion and repletion with models, drawings, and specifications, coming from the inventive mind of the nation, and deposited there from the time patents were first issued by our Government. These models, drawings, and specifications were all destroyed with the postoffice building; ashes and melted or twisted fragments of copper, brass, iron, and steel being all that was left of that which had often been looked upon with a feeling akin to wonder by the thoughtful -- wonder that so much time, thought, and money had been spent in elucidating and preserving plans and schemes (many of them could not be called inventions), never heard of, noticed, or seen outside the rooms in which they had found a legal home.

Since the disaster of 1836, a new and spacious building, one of the striking ornaments of our national metropolis, has been erected for the use of the patent office; and this building, with a current issue of about three hundred new patents per week, is now filled almost to its utmost capacity with models of nearly every conceivable form and for almost every conceivable purpose.

How comes all this strange medley? this aggregation of odds and ends? and what are their uses? Man might be called a blundering animal, not guided by the unerring instinct that prevents the lower animals from making a mistake; not satisfied to follow the beaten track, he tries different modes of doing the same thing, often blundering most glaringly, but sometimes, in the result, reaping a full reward in fame and fortune by hitting upon and bringing out something invaluable to his fellow-man. Slow, and even obstinately unwilling as we are to change from old to new ways, "Let well enough alone," and, "It is good enough as it is," have been deeply fixed in our natures from the beginning. Hence, innovators have never met with favor, and instead of being helped and encouraged, they are but too often sneered at and hindered even by those who are most likely to be benefited by their labors. Many a really valuable invention or improvement has been persistently resisted and opposed at first by the very persons who, in the end, are to derive the most benefit therefrom; and ere a foothold could be gained, many a battle has been fought for years, against the most unfair odds, with those who should have been doing most to aid and assist in the advancement of the new idea. Even the workmen in charge of a dangerous apparatus, and whose lives hang sometimes upon a thread, not only do not seek or care for greater safety, but they often persistently and willfully set themselves against the very thing they should do their utmost to help on as a good to themselves. It is a strange anomaly that it is in cases where life and property are most in jeopardy by defective modes of using some needed but highly dangerous thing, that the greatest apathy is felt; and those who thoroughly understand the question often make great opposition toward even a fair trial of a proposed improvement.

On the contrary, most of what is seen at Washington is the work of men often with little or no experience in the particular branch they have taken in hand. It would seem from this that those most familiar with a subject, may not be best calculated to improve it, simply because they do not care to get out of the old ruts. Hence, the innovator, and sometimes improver, is most likely he who lacks almost all knowledge of what has preceded him. On the other hand, hundreds of patents are rejected upon application, simply because an idea has been hit upon by the applicant quite new to him, and apparently valuable, but which, from some good reason, only learned by experience, has proved fallacious, and consequently has long ago been discarded.

It would be well for those who profit by the real improvements that come from the teeming brains of those who fill the galleries of the Patent Office with their curious labors, to keep back their too ready shrug and sneer when new inventions are brought to their notice by some poor devil of a patentee, as innovators are but too often termed. Look at least with charity and consideration, upon a class to whom we owe so much. Help them when you can, and be not niggardly in kind words of encouragement, and with money, too, when you can do so out of your own excess. Remember that, since the time when man has needed anything, it is from just such men as those whom you but too often discard unthinkingly, have come all the comforts we enjoy in our homes, in our business, and in every walk of life. To this ever-restless band we owe all of improvement that so strongly marks this epoch in the world's history. The minds of but few in the grand total of humanity have thus worked incessantly for our good, in the long past as in the present, and they should be treated, individually, and as a class, not as half-witted visionaries, but as the benefactors of our race. They have ever battled on against every discouragement and every hindrance, each, like the soldier in a forlorn hope, trusting that he might be the one to plant the flag on the parapet and reap the wished-for reward.

The work of these men -- these martyrs as they may sometimes be called -- can never be really known. Its record would take in all the failures, and it would also take in that much larger aggregate of all the brain-worn hours, which have left no mark except that deep one on the weary mind of the thinker, who, after all his labor, finds that he has only succeeded perhaps in, as it were, proving a fallacy. But we can measure the value of the work done -- of the wheat winnowed from this large amount of chaff -- by what we see of success all around us; and by these fruits we should know them, and with this knowledge we should ever be willing to admit that those who have piled up the rubbish in the Patent Office at Washington, are worthy of more honor and more reward than they usually receive -- Lippincott's Magazine


Issue number 26, page 406, 26 June 1869

Important Decision about Patents -- Rejected Cases

The Commissioner of Patents, Hon. S.S. Fisher, has made an important decision, involving a point of much interest to a large class of inventors, as well as to the public generally. Prior to the act of March 2, 1861, rejected applicants were permitted by law to withdraw their applications, and receive back two thirds of the fee. This practice was abolished by the act referred to. Many inventors now seek to revive these applications, claiming that the rejection was through the faulty or imperfect consideration of the Bureau, and hoping for better success under a changed administration. In many cases numerous patents touching these same inventions, or points therein, have since been granted, which could only be regarded as infringements, if the rejected application was to be reopened and granted as an original case. The Commissioner has heretofore decided that when an application is not renewed within two years after withdrawal, its continuity is broken. The decision, which is a very able one, is printed in full in another column.


Issue number 26, page 407, 26 June 1869

Renewed Vigor at the Patent Office

Commissioner Fisher is infusing life and energy into the Patent Office, such as it has not experienced since the days of Mason and Holt. Applications which have been allowed to accumulate under recent Commissioners are being examined and disposed of very rapidly, and we hope soon to be able to announce that the files in the Examiners' rooms are clear of pending cases. On a single day -- Friday, June 11th -- we received circulars of allowance of Thirty-Nine patents, on applications made through our Home Office, exclusive of those prepared at our Washington Branch Office. If the new Commissioner continues thus energetic in his management, he will secure and deserve an enduring popularity.

Now that the Commissioner has his hands well hold of the plow, we trust that he will neither hesitate nor turn back.


<< Return to Patent History Materials Index