Page images
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


By the terms of the contract, the whole of which Mr. Belmont is the head, subway, with all rolling stock in per- must pay back to the city the $35,000,000 fect order, becomes the property of the advanced it for building the structure, City of New York in fifty years; and with 5 per cent interest, in regular anbefore that time the operating company, nual installments.

The Value and Method of Obtaining Patents

First Paper


Counselor-at-Law and Patent Attorney

T UNDREDS of patents issued by sell, or use the invention, and by exact

the Patent Office each year, and ing toll therefor. But if no one wishes I received by the inventors with to make, sell, or use it, what then? The

joy, are really not worth the mere fact that an inventor has discovered cost of their patenting. The inventor a new way of doing a thing, does not learns this in the end, but often not until make his invention valuable. The new he has wasted considerable money, de- way may be a cumbersome or expensive voted valuable time, and worked or way, or may be one of several ways, all waited patiently for months and years equally good. It must be something that in yain. Along with these worthless people will pay money for the privilege patents, other hundreds of patents of of using. In the last analysis, the value great value, are issued each year, by the of a patent is based on the public deaid of which many a man rises to pros- mand for the patented thing. perity and affluence. In considering Of course it may be possible, by adwhat makes the difference, it is well to vertising or by clever salesmanship, to remember that a patent is nothing mag- create a demand where no demand exical. It is merely a right granted by the isted before. So, also, a patent on a Government, authorizing the patentee to cumbersome way of doing a thing may forbid other people making, selling, or have a sale value if it constitutes an alusing a certain thing defined in the ternative of some better way that is itself patent.

monopolized. In such a case it may be

worth money to the owner of the older What Makes a Patent Valuable?

monopoly to buy the new though poorer The patentee makes his profit or- way in order to continue his monopoly dinarily by permitting others to make and prevent reduction of his profits by



competition. These, and other seeming way or some other connect his patent exceptions that may arise, are really but with the existing patents that dominate different manifestations of the principle the system. that the value of a patent depends upon Let not a man despair simply because the degree to which people may desire he is poor. If the invention is good, and to exercise the invention it covers. The if the patent is properly drawn and patents covering inventions which are sagaciously sold, he may receive a rich new and useful in the sense of the patent return. There is probably no easier way law, but which are not demanded by to wealth for the ordinary citizen, no trade, art, or manufacture, are the ones door to comfort that opens more readily, that are worthless—not worth the cost than that afforded by an intelligent use of printing, much less worth the govern- of United States patents. It is the element and attorneys' fees which the in- vator by which those who know how ventor must pay for obtaining them. may rise, while others toil up the stairs. How to distinguish such from the in- But the elevator must be used with care. ventions that may have patentable value; A patent is property ; to sell it advantahow to manage them profitably and es- geously requires business ability of the cape mistakes that too often prevent the same high order that is required to disinventor from realizing that value, will pose of any property advantageously. A be considered in this and subsequent patent will no more sell itself than will articles.

a house and lot-except at a sacrifice. The profit to be derived from a patent The patentee will be hampered to greater depends upon other things besides those or less extent by his lack of capital, by mentioned. It depends upon the judg- his inexperience in negotiation, by his ment shown in adopting a suitable policy remoteness from business centers; but for handling the patent. It depends upon so he would be in in any business transthe capital and energy with which it is action. Indeed, while everyone can see exploited. It depends greatly upon the and judge a house and lot, the value of a business ability with which the article patent is visible sometimes only to the is offered upon the market. It may de- inventor. The usefulness of it may have pend much upon its opportuneness. A to be explained; the public and the trade good golf ball invention is worth much may have to be educated. Moreover, more in the United States to-day than while there is always a market for real it would have been twenty years ago, estate, the market for a patent is very and is probably worth less than it would limited. Only those who can use it, have been five years ago. The value fre- either in their business already estabquently depends upon the ownership or lished, or in a business to be established, control of a system of other patents in are available as buvers; and it will hare the same line of business. The inventor value to them, as a rule, only in proporof an improved detail in a type-setting tion to the extent to which they can utilmachine can hardly utilize his invention ize it. Therefore a patent has most value unless he is free to make and sell a com- to a concern doing a large business. Atplete machine in which it is embodied. tendant circumstances—such, for exHe may be unable to do this, either from ample, as the existence of but one proslack of facilities or capital, or because pective purchaser—may prevent the essential parts of the machine are cov- patentee from easily obtaining a price ered by patents to others. Practically commensurate with the value of the pathis only profitable course in such case is ent to the purchaser; but that is only to procure a patent for the invention and another problem for the salesman. The sell it to some maker of such machines. inventor should consider all these things This does not mean that he will receive before spending money toward getting only a small sum for it, nor that he must the patent. If the invention is meritake a price dictated by the purchaser, torious, and if it can probably be covered for the invention may relate to a very by a patent giving a good monopoly, important detail, and there may be sev- with prospect of a good demand, the ineral competing makers each anxious to ventor may go ahead with corresponding secure it; but the inventor must in this confidence that he will ultimately get his

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

money back, and as much more as the too extensive (when their personal incharacter of the invention and his own terests are involved), the courts have circumstances and ability will warrant. found it necessary to require such testi

mony to be supported by something adThe First Necessity

ditional. This simple precaution may Before procuring the patent, the first enable the true first inventor to prove thing to do is to make the invention. his priority in a case where he would That seems an absurdly simple remark; otherwise wholly lose the benefit of his but it is surprising how many people invention merely through lack of witthere are who, having conceived of a nesses to prove that his conception exuseful result, desire a patent before they isted at a date earlier than the date his have really devised any way of accom- opponent can prove. Such a disclosure plishing it. One such person came to to witnesses is also a safeguard against the writer for a patent on an improved theft of the invention. No one who gets method of preventing collisions of elec- the idea from the inventor can successtric cars. He proposed to have each car fully claim it as his own unless he can automatically send to the motorman of produce equally conclusive evidence anthe other car an electrical warning of tedating the disclosure to witnesses. its approach. This was surely a neat Obviously it is important to select as way of preventing collisions; but the witnesses persons who are trustworthy. manner in which the signal was to be I f the inventor desires further time generated and sent, and received on the to mature his invention, he may file a approaching car, remained uninvented. caveat in the Patent Office. This enHe wanted a broad patent on the happy titles him to notice if any other person result; others who understood electricity within one year files an application might devise the particular means.

for patent which would interfere; and It is not necessary that the inventor he must then within three months should work out the complete mechanical pare and file his own application, after details of his device before applying for which the Patent Office proceeds with a patent; still less need he construct a the aid of testimony, or otherwise, to working specimen ; but he should think determine which applicant made the inout his plan with sufficient completeness vention first. A caveat costs nearly as so that a person skilled in the particular much as a formal application for patent, art to which the idea relates could con- and lacks most of the advantages of the struct the device and make it work with latter. It is usually better to file no out further invention, relying only on the caveat, but, instead, to have sketches and instructions of the inventor and the gen- drawings of the invention witnessed as eral or special knowledge which such a they develop, and to file the formal apperson is presumed to have.

plication promptly. Witnesses

Reduction to Practice Having made the invention, show and The inventor should proceed with explain it to several trustworthy wit diligence to reduce his invention to pracnesses. The best way is to make sketches tice, by putting a working specimen into or drawings and have the witnesses sign use. An inventor who is the first to and date them, first making sure that conceive an invention, but who is not dilthey understand the device, so that if igent in reducing to practice, will be dethey are called to testify later they could nied a patent in favor of a person who intell intelligently what they saw. This vents it later and reduces with diligence. enables the inventor to fix and prove the The filing of an application for patent has date of his invention. It is not the only

been adjudged to have the same effect way, but it is one of the most satis as a reduction to practice, and is, in fact, factory.

called a “constructive” reduction to Human nature is the same the country practice. Hence the importance of filing over. For protection against persons whose memories are unscrupulous and

(Continued on Page 518)

« PreviousContinue »