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The patent for making umbrellas out of alpaca instead of gingham realised a princely fortune for its inventor, while the simple patented idea of heating the blast in iron smelting has certainly increased the wealth of this country by hundreds of millions.

In most cases where men have risen to eminence through inventions, they did not stop at a single patent, but kept on improving, and buying also the improvements of their workpeople and others. Howe, the inventor of the sewing-machine, was an exception. He made a large fortune out of that one invention, and left improvements on it to others. One firm among his licensees, Wheeler and Wilson, by taking out fresh patents, and working them, are said to have made more than $1,000,000 (£200,000) a year net profits, during the continuance of Howe's patent, after paying the latter his magnificent royalties.


A patent gives its owner the sole right, for 14 years (subject to his paying the taxes at the end of the fourth and subsequent years), of making, using, selling (or importing) the article or process patented, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, and on the adjacent seas, but not in ships of those countries or colonies that grant similar exemption to British shipping in their waters. This sole right is, however, subject to the exceptions set forth in the article Compulsory Licenses, page 28.

It is an infringement of the patentee's rights to manufacture for one's personal household use.


The Government does not guarantee anything in the patent, but simply gives the patentee a right to the exclusive use of his invention, subject to certain limitations, and so long as nothing against the validity of his patent shall be proved. It is a common mistake to suppose that “ a patent is a patent,” and that so long as an inventor has his letters patent he has a good and sufficient title deed. It is, indeed, an undoubted fact that the majority of the patents at present existing will not “hold water ” (generally through defective drawing up, or from embracing what is old). This is owing in a great part to the employment of “cheap agents," and inventors doing their own patenting. It is notorious in the profession that certain individuals who send round circulars to all those taking out provisional protection offering to complete the same or take out foreign patents at prices that cannot pay for good work, almost invariably draw up the specifications in a manner that will injure or nullify the patent rights. Nothing, indeed, in the whole range of law requires so much skill to draw up as the final specifications of patents. With other law documents there are books of precedents to keep one straight. This is not and cannot be the case with patent specifications, and without great care and skill on the part of the man who draws these up, they are almost certain to be valueless. It is for this reason that solicitors usually decline to take out patents, but refer their clients to men whose special business and training qualifies them to draw up these documents.

So great has this evil of incompetent practitioners become, that in 1888 an Act was passed allowing no fresh individuals to advertise themselves as “Patent Agents” without first passing an examination. This will be very beneficial in the long run, but the first effect of the Act was the registration of a large number of inexperienced men anxious to come in without examination.

Any person styling himself a Patent Agent when unregistered is liable to a fine of £20. The law, however, does not prevent an unregistered person from practising under the designation Patent Expert, or from putting up the sign " Patent Office."



An invention can be provisionally protected for six months, and this provisional protection can be changed at any time during said six months into a complete patent for fourteen years (subject to forfeiture in case of non-payment of certain stamp duties. See page 23). An invention can also be protected by a complete application, at the outset, instead of by a provisional one, in which case no provisional application is required. The specification in a provisional application merely describes the nature of an invention, without giving it in all its minute details, or making any distinct claim. A complete specification must, as its name implies, fully describe the invention, and must clearly and distinctly point out exactly what parts are new and claimed as the actual invention protected, and is a document requiring the highest skill and long experience to draw up efficiently.

The following are the respective advantages of filing a provisional or a complete application :



Protection commences from the day when the specification has been formally deposited, provided the specification for a patent be reasonably full and in order, and be eventually accepted. The invention may,

Protection commences from the day when the application has been formally accepted. After the acceptance of the complete application, and until the date of sealing the patent, or the expiration of the time during the period between the or sealing, the applicant has date of application and the the like privileges and rights date of sealing such patent, be as if a patent for the invention used and published without had been sealed to him on the prejudice or injury to the date of acceptance of his applipatent to be granted for the cation, except that he cannot same, but the inventor cannot

prosecute infringers until the prosecute infringers till he actual patent is granted to him. obtain his patent, nor can he He can then obtain damages even then obtain damages for for all infringements subseinfringements made previous quent to the date of the to the acceptance of his com- acceptance of his complete plete specification.

specification. The provisional application

The claims in the complete gives the inventor priority specification cannot afterwards from the date of his applica- be added to, though they tion, and the inventor has six may be curtailed or palpable months during which he can clerical errors corrected, and in work out the details and some cases explanations made. decide what to claim.

These alterations entail extra

expense. The description of the in- The specification is printed vention is kept secret until and published shortly after the the acceptance of the complete application has been accepted specification, and should, from (unless the applicant specially any cause, that specification be petitions to the contrary), not accepted, it is not pub- and owners of prior provisional lished at all, and the applicant protections still running, seecan make a second application. ing the invention can draw

their claims wider to
it, and thus rob the later

inventor. Abundant time is left, after Patents for several foreign protecting in England, for countries, in order to be valid, filing foreign patent applica- must be applied foron or tions, and for the inventor to before the day of acceptar.ce get (by applying for a patent of a complete specification in in the United States) the very England. exhaustive report

of the The complete specification American Patent Office ex- is at once examined as to aminer on the novelty of the novelty, and there is no hurry invention (a very useful docu- or chance of loss of date ment), before deciding what in getting the case accepted. claims to make in the com- This is the greatest advantage plete British specification. of all.


This mode of procedure costs a little more for the complete patent than the other, but only the small cost of provisional protection need be paid when making the application, and the remainder when filing the complete specification.

A slight saving may

be effected by this method of application, but the entire cost of the patent with the exception of the final fee, has to be paid at once.

PROVISIONAL PROTECTION. An inventor or inventors, with or without other individuals joining him or them in the application, can obtain provisional protection by application prepared in due form deposited at the Patent Office. Considerable skill and experience are required to properly draw up the specification, and inventors, as a rule, will find it best to employ an experienced Patent Agent for this purpose.

While the law of 1852 was in force we recommended all inventors to have a search made as to novelty before protecting. Now, however, since protection can be obtained so cheaply, and the Government make a search when the complete application is filed, when any non-novel claims can be cut out or amended, and as under the present law disclaiming (as will be afterwards described), has become almost a matter of right, instead of favour, it will usually be found the wiser plan to obtain immediate protection where there is a reasonable ground for believing the invention to be valuable and new. During the six months that next ensue, the inventor will have ample opportunity of finding out whether his invention be new, or to what extent it is old, especially if he introduce it to the trade at large, or apply for a United States or German patent, in which case the Government of that country will make a search as to the novelty of the invention and furnish a full report.

Provisional protection, if the papers are reasonably

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