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complete, dates from the day when the papers are deposited in the Patent Office, or, if correctly addressed and officially posted to it, from the hour when such papers should in the ordinary course of post have been delivered, even though, through some accident, the parcel be delayed or lost in transmission.
Provisional protection lasts six months (or seven months with an extra payment of £2 nos.), during which period the inventor can freely work and sell his invention, but he cannot sue infringers until his patent be sealed, when he can obtain damages for all infringements made after the acceptance of his complete specification. The industrial use or sale of a patented machine after completion of the patent, though the machine was made before the acceptance of the complete specification, is an infringement of the patent. A patent for the invention applied for and completed by another party during the provisional protection does not prejudice the patent afterwards obtained on such provisional protection.
Each application, as soon as practicable after deposit, is referred to an examiner, who ascertains and reports to the Comptroller, (1st) whether the nature of the invention has been, in his opinion, fairly described ; (2nd) whether the application, specification, and drawings, if any, have been prepared in the prescribed manner; and (3rd) whether the title sufficiently indicates the subject matter of the invention. As, too, the Comptroller has power to refuse patents contrary to law and order, and only one invention can by law be patented under one application, it is the examiner's duty to report on these particulars. If the examiner reports against the application on any of these enumerated points, the Comptroller may
require the application, specification, or drawings to be amended before he proceeds with the application, and, if the case be very imperfect or informal, has power to only grant protection from the date when the required corrections have been made. The Comptroller does not, however, exert this power except in extreme cases.
This power of ordering amendment is open to serious abuse. There have been cases, even where alterations made at the instance of the examiners have increased the scope of the original invention to the detriment of subsequent applicants. These alterations are kept secret, and only the specification as actually amended is published. The law wants a radical alteration here, as in our experience it opens a door for fraud, which has in the past been very frequently taken advantage of by unscrupulous patentees. All that men do is done by the present examiners to prevent abuse, but the only safe rule (in force already in nearly all other countries) is that a document once filed can never be altered, but that its contents can be qualified by a second document, dated as of the day it is filed stating the amendments demanded or made.
Where, indeed, amendments or disclaimers are made after the sealing of the patent, this rule is usually carried out in England.
The applicant may appeal against the Comptroller's decision to the Law officers of the Crown.
If an appeal be made, the Attorney or SolicitorGeneral hears the applicant or bis agent and the Comptroller, and decides whether the application shall be allowed, and upon what terms.
If the application be considered in order, it is allowed to date from the day of application (except in the cases above mentioned and somewhat similar ones hereafter mentioned in connection with the
second examination), the applicant is notified, and the provisional specification is kept secret till the acceptance of the complete specification. If a complete specification be filed at the outset, instead of a provisional one, the specification and drawings are immediately published on their acceptance; but the printed copies cannot usually be obtained till a month later.
The provisional application being allowed, the next step in obtaining a patent consists in depositing within six months of the date of application for provisional protection (or seven months with a fine of £2 10s.).
A COMPLETE SPECIFICATION.
The complete specification must describe the invention fully and in detail, and the best mode known to the inventor of carrying it out. If drawings are useful or desirable for the better understanding, they must be furnished, drawn in an artistic manner, in accordance with the rules, and the invention claimed must be accurately and particularly defined.
The specification must also clearly distinguish and point out exactly what is new in the invention; and should anything claimed as new be proved hereafter to have been known, or in public use in the realm previous to the application, or be entirely useless, the patent becomes void. (There is an expensive remedy for this, however, as will be afterwards explained under the head "Disclaimers." Pages 25 to 27.)
An invention must be fully and unreservedly explained in the specification, without concealing any part, and so that any competent workman, conversant with the branch of manufacture to which it is nearly related, could work the invention without any other instructions than those the specification affords; otherwise the patent will not be valid.
Any evidence of deceit apparent on the face of the specification invalidates the patent; as, for instance, if an ingredient be mentioned as forming an essential part of a compound, which ingredient, however, the inventor knew was of no manner of use in it. Similarly, if it be found that the inventor concealed any part of his invention, or set forth an inferior mode of working, knowing of a superior one, his patent is void on the ground of bad faith.
In the case of communications from abroad, however, no evidence of deceit or fraud on the part of the communicator can invalidate the patent. But if it be proved that the person to whom the invention is communicated and who takes out the patent has made a concealment of this nature, or has obtained the invention by fraud, the patent can be upset at law.
The complete specification requires the highest skill and experience to draw up so as to stand at law, and upon it depends the value of the patent, and indeed its very existence as a piece of tangible property.
The complete specification is referred to an official, who examines it to see if the invention as set forth complete is the same as that set forth in the provisional specification, whether it has been described in whole or in part in any prior British specification published during the immediately preceding fifty years. If the invention be found to be novel, the specification is accepted in about six or eight weeks after it is filed. If, however, the invention be anticipated in whole or in part, the applicant has the option :
1. Of amending his specification, in which case it
is again examined, and possibly again objected to by the examiner, and so on for several times, or
2. Inserting a reference to such prior specification in his own, or
3. Appealing against the Examiner's decision.
The official examination is not an absolutely complete one, as it is only British patents of the previous fifty years that are examined, and not, as in Germany and the United States, foreign patent specifications and books also, which, if they contain the invention and are open for public inspection here, are equally fatal to a valid English patent.
If the Examiner be not satisfied, the Comptroller hears the applicant if the latter desire it, and then determines whether a reference to any, and if so what, specifications ought to be made in the specification by way of notice to the public. If the examination shows that the invention is completely forestalled by a single prior patent, this fact can be prominently set forth on the patent specification by order of the Comptroller.
Should considerable delay have been caused by amendments, the Comptroller may at his discretion seal it as of a later date than that of the application.
If the complete specification be not accepted within elve months from the te of the application (unless delayed by appeal to the Law Officer) protection ceases, and the invention becomes public property. The Comptroller, in cases of hardship, is however allowed at his discretion to extend the time three months,
HEARING AN OBJECTION. As the citation on the actual printed specification of one or more patents as anticipations is very