Scientific American, v 14 (ns), no 4, p 54, 20 January 1866
Administration of the Patent Office
Commissioner of Patents -- Thomas C. Theaker, of Ohio -- Salary $4,500.
Examiners in Chief -- S.H. Hodges, Vermont; E. Foot, New York; S.C. Fessenden, Maine -- Salaries $3,000 each.
Examiners -- T.R. Peale, Pennsylvania; B.F. James, Illinois; Wm. Bebb, Tennessee; J.M. Blanchard, Indiana; L.J. Farwell, Wisconsin; A.M. Smith, New York; J.J. Halsted, New Jersey; T.C. Connelly, District of Columbia; Wm. B. Taylor, District of Columbia; C.G. Page, District of Columbia; J.W. Jayne, Pennsylvania; B.S. Hedrick, North Carolina; W.C. Doane, New York; J. Brainard, Ohio; N. Crawford, Illinois; J.T. Fales, Iowa -- Salaries, $2,500 each.
Chief Clerk -- T. Harland, Connecticut -- Salary $2,500.
Disbursing Clerk -- H. McCormick, District of Columbia -- $1,800.
Librarian -- G.C. Shaeffer, District of Columbia -- Salary, $1,800.
Confederate States Patent Office
Messrs. Editors: -- I made application to the Patent Office of the Confederate States, at Richmond, for an improved machine for turning irregular forms, for which a patent was granted me. The model and papers all went up, I suppose, in the evacuation and surrender. If the papers or models are in possession of the Patent Office at Washington, and if you can give me any information about them, I will be very thankful.
If it could be obtained I do not know whether it would be worth making application to the Patent Office at Washington or not, under the circumstances. Please give me all the information you can consistently, with your views on the matter.
John L. Hudson
Cumming, April 25, 1866
[As much curiosity has been expressed in regard to the Confederate States Patent Office, and the records accumulated by that defunct institution, we have made some inquiries, the result of which is as follows: The Commissioner of the United States Patent Office, in June last, sent a commissioner to Richmond, Va., under the charge of Ex-Governor Farwell, of Wisconsin, one of the Principal Examiners of the Patent Office. He was furnished with orders from Major Generals Halleck and Terry, and thoroughly examined the matter, but without finding any specifications, drawings or models. They, together with the other records, are presume to have been destroyed in the fire which desolated the city. -- Eds.
A Reform Needed in the Patent Office
The efficiency of that valuable branch of the Government, the Patent Office, is much lessened by the long delays which often intervene between the filing of an application and the final decision. We hope that if any amendment is made to the Patent Laws by this Congress, it will be aimed to cure this defect in the administration of the office, a defect which arises from an inadequate force, or else from a wrong classification of that force. There are now three classes of Examiners, called "Examiners," "First Assistants," and "Second Assistants." If there was but one class, and each had equal pay and an equal share of work, the accumulations would soon be got rid of, without the necessity of increasing the force. The present system compels and examiner who has one or even two assistants, to go over the work again before a case is finally disposed of, and it seems to us, that if the assistants were made principals, and each had his separate and independent portfolio, the work would soon be brought up, and the examining corps might even be reduced in number, instead of being enlarged. While we are upon Patent Office matters, we owe it to the public and to inventors, to aid our protest against the imposition of the ten dollars appeal tax. The patent fund is overflowing now, having about $150,000 surplus, and this comes wholly from the fees of inventors. What good will it do any one to make the inventors who have to appeal, pay an additional tax? Will that secure a more intelligent examination of their case by Examiners? This proposed tax is odious, and we hope Congress will refuse to pass it. On the other hand, we hope they will grant to those of the few Assistant Examiners who have, by the direction of the Commissioners, ever since the time of Judge Mason, been doing the work of full Examiners, the compensation allowed by law to Examiners who have independent charge of different classes of invention. Congress directed the Commissioner in 1856 and 1860 to pay such the legal compensation, and we believe that inventors would no longer have to wait six months or nine months for their turns, if Congress will break up the grades of Examiners altogether, and let each Examiner have his proper share of work and equal pay, and be able to dispose of applications with more promptness. -- New York Times
Legislation about Patents in Congress
Considerable attention is being given to patents in the House of Representatives. On the 16th inst. the Committee on Patents reported a bill for the relief of Delia A. Jacobs, which authorizes the Commissioner of Patents to extend the patent for an original method of dressing treenails -- the original term having expired August 28, 1862. Mr. Myers, who supported the petition, stated that no other persons have been using this patent since its expiration, and that there was a general desire that the widow of the patentee should have the benefit of the extension. A provision was incorporated in the bill that no parties shall be held to account for damages for any use of the invention since the patent expired.
Mr. Myers declared that the widow was now almost entirely supported by the little pittance given her by Wm. H. Webb and James Udall, of New York City. The bill passed by 57 majority -- 64 members not voting.
Mr. Myers, from the same Committee, reported a bill for the relief of William Mann and Jacob Seneff. It appears that Mann obtained a patent July 11, 1852, for improvements in the manufacture of copying paper made of equal parts of manila and cotton, which will expire July 11, 1866. Being absent in Europe, he was not aware that ninety days' notice must be given of the application for extension. Mr. Washburne opposed the bill, and intimated that if a party "was swelling through Europe it was his own fault," and objected to the way the thing was being done.
Jacob Seneff obtained a patent Jan. 13, 1852, for a metallic heddle, used in looms for passing the warp. This patent expired the 13th of last January, and being in the military service -- employed in the hospital and in the volunteer refreshment saloon at Philadelphia, Mr. Senneff thus lost his chance to obtain his extension and only discovered his loss when it was too late to apply to the Commissioner under the general law.
The bills in these cases were simply to authorize the Commissioner of Patents to hear and decide them upon testimony, as in all other extension cases. Considerable debate ensued, and Mr. Washburne hit a vital point when he declared that these parties were only in the same condition with hundreds of others. The bills were passed.
Mr. Bromwell, of Illinois, from the Committee on Patents, reported a bill authorizing the Commissioner of Patents to grant an extension for seven years of the patent issued December 6, 1845, to Thomas D. Burrall, for a corn sheller, and extended for seven years from Dec. 6, 1859, by the Commissioner of Patents. The proposition now is to allow another extension for seven years, which, if obtained under the provisions of this bill would make three terms or twenty eight years.
Mr. Harding, of Illinois, who opposed the bill, stated that the patentee "has been receiving large rewards for his invention during twenty-one years, and now he wants to continue the same business." Mr. Bromwell declared that the patentee was an exceedingly old man and exceedingly poor, the question being simply whether Congress was willing that the Commissioner of Patents should hear such cases, and decide as he deems right in view of the rights of the public and the inventor. The bill was passed.
We have carefully read the discussion upon these various bills, and while it seems to be very plausible and very just in its general features, we warn our readers that it has a much deeper significance. These comparatively minor bills are brought forward and passed to establish precedents and try the temper of the House; that the larger extension cases will soon come, we have not a doubt.