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HANDBOOK OF PATENT
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
KINDS OF PROTECTION.
There are four species of industrial protection :1. Patents for invention for fourteen years. 2. Registration of designs for five years.
3. Registration of trade marks for fourteen years, renewable again and again, for fourteen years, and Patent Medicines.”
4. Copyright of books and plays, works of art, musical productions, and photographs.
A Patent, or exclusive privilege, to an inventor for a limited period, is, in reality, a contract between the Crown, on behalf of the nation at large, and the inventor. The latter gives to the public what it did not possess before—the full details of a new invention; the Crown, in return, gives the inventor the exclusive right, subject to certain conditions, of working that invention for a limited period, at the end of which time the full benefit of the discovery passes to the public.
WHO CAN PATENT.
Any person or persons, native or foreign, adult or minor, may obtain a patent, provided that he or they or one of them be the true and first inventor or inventors or importer or importers. The executor or administrator (by appointment of a British Court) of a deceased inventor applying for protection for said deceased's invention within six months after the death of the inventor, can obtain a patent for the said invention. A pending application of the deceased inventor can be granted to his executor or administrator within one year of the said inventor's death.
A patent may also be applied for by one or more inventors, conjointly with applicants who are not inventors, and in this way a capitalist or other person assisting the inventor, or purchasing an interest in it, before the application-or even a body corporate, such as a limited company-can secure an interest in it. As a rule it is undesirable to make a body corporate one of the applicants, as it is by no means certain that in such case every member of the said body has not an independent right to use the invention. If, however, a patent be assigned or licensed to a body corporate, the individual members thereof have no separate right.
Now, the question arises, What does the word "inventor" mean? In the time of James I., when the Statute of Monopolies was passed, the generally accepted meaning of the word inventor was the man who first becomes possessed of an invention in the realm, either by discovering it himself or by importing the discovery of another; and most of the earlier patents were for imported inventions. The word is derived primarily, as is well known, from the Latin in venire, to come in, and the courts, ever since the time of James I., have constructed the word
"inventor to mean the individual in the realm to whom the invention has first come, whether by importation or discovery. Now, the Act of 1883 expressly accepts the Act of James I., as the authority for what is an invention in these words :
"Invention " " means 66 any manner of new manufacture the subject of letters patent and grant of privilege within section six of the Statute of Monopolies (that is, the Act of the twenty-first year of the reign of King James I., chapter three, intituled 'An Act concerning monopolies and dispensations with penal laws and the forfeiture thereof'), and includes an alleged invention."
The object of "harking back" to this old Act, the real patent law of this country, was to enable the almost innumerable decisions of judges on the meaning and application of this Act, and on what is a new and useful invention, to be still available as precedents, the Acts of 1883 and 1902 being not new patent laws, but more properly Acts to regulate the granting of patents.
Where, therefore, the inventor is resident abroad, it is still somewhat doubtful whether he be by the Statute of Monopolies qualified to obtain a valid patent. In old times it was held unconstitutional for the king to grant a monopoly to a foreigner resident abroad. The Statute of Monopolies made all mono. polies illegal except those granted to the true and first inventor thereof for a new invention in the realm which "others" (that is, others in the United Kingdom) did not at the time of grant use. Monopolies to foreigners abroad were already considered illegal. Hence for many years all foreign inventions were patented in this country as communications to Patent Agents in the country, who thus became the true and first "inventors or importers as trustees for the real owners and discoverers. Latterly, inventors
abroad have taken out patents in their own names, and the office freely grants such and so far their legality has not been questioned. For the above and for other reasons, however, it is safer and better for foreigners residing abroad to apply for patents through a resident in this country as communications. An exception to this is made expressly when the inventor is a citizen of or resident in one of the countries forming the Union for the Protection of Industrial Property (see page 29), and the patent is applied for within twelve months of the date of the earliest foreign patent and under the rules of the Convention. It must then be taken out in the name of the foreign patentee.
Where, however, a patent has been applied for by a resident in this country as a communication from a foreigner resident abroad, and that patent is afterwards assigned to a foreigner, there is no doubt that the latter can legally hold such patent, and carry on actions for infringement thereof.
In case of a patent being lost or destroyed, a duplicate will be issued to the inventor or owner on his proving the facts of the case to the satisfaction of the Comptroller, and paying the prescribed fees.
When an invention is the joint production of two minds, it should be patented in their joint names; for should it be proved that the patentee obtained from another individual a material part of the invention, the patent will be invalid.
Should, however, an inventor employ another individual to perform experiments with a view to making a specific discovery, the discovery so made is in the eye of the law made by the employer, and can be patented by him without using the name of the afore
said employé, the latter being looked upon as merely an instrument employed by the inventor.
An employer has no right or title to the inventions of his employés, except such as those mentioned in the previous paragraph, where the employé has been employed purposely to work out the details of a general idea unfolded to him by his employer. Even should there be a special agreement between master and servant, that all inventions of the latter made during the period of service shall become the property of the former, the patents securing said inventions must be applied for in the name of the employé, alone or conjointly with that of the employer, but can be afterwards assigned to the employer.
Two or more individuals obtaining a patent in their joint names, or joint owners in a patent without a special agreement, are not partners, but each has an equal and co-extensive right to work the patent to his own individual advantage, or to license others, or to sell his entire share but not a part thereof, and neither is responsible for the liabilities of the other, but all owners have a joint interest in all royalties received by any one of them. It is therefore very desirable in all cases of dual ownership, that there should be a definite written agreement between the parties.
A patent can be seized by a sheriff, and in case of bankruptcy of owner it forms part of the estate, and can be sold for the benefit of the creditors.
WHAT CAN BE PATENTED.
Any new art, manufacture, or composition of matter, new combination of two or more known things producing an advantageous result, or any new chemical or other process, or improvement on existing processes or manufactures, can be patented.