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LAW OF PATENTS
BY THOMAS GREEN FESSENDEN,
COUNSELLOR AT LAW.
“ As the West Indies had never been discovered without the discovery
THE SECOND EDITION.
No. 51 CORNHILL.
1858, aprel. 6.
2, p. 24
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT:
District Clerk's Office.
An Essay on the Law of Patents for New Inventions. By THOMAS
In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States, entitled, “ An
JOHN W. DAVIS,
Printed by John Cotton, jr.
The investigations which led to the following essay, were commenced in consequence of the author's having occasion to turn his attention to the subject, without any design of publication. He was, however, induced to place the result of his inquiries before the public, in consequence of his having ascertained that the Law of Patents for New Inventions had received but little attention-much less, in his opinion, than was due to so important a branch of jurisprudence. It was, therefore, hoped that an essay on this topic, though but imperfectly executed, might be recommended as well by its novelty as by its utility.
The course of the author's inquiries, requisite to complete this essay, led him to observe that those persons to whom mankind have been indebted for the most useful discoveries, inventions, and improvements, in the arts, have but rarely met with that reward, either of fame or profit, which their ingenuity has mer
ited. Yet to men of this description must be attributed the origin not only of the comforts, ornaments, and luxuries of life, but even of those necessaries, the want of which would convert the human race into hordes of wandering, naked, and houseless savages, much more miserable and defenceless than the brute inhabitants of the wilderness.
The writer has seen, with regret, not only that the lower orders in society, for the most part, entertain absurd and unreasonable prejudices against the person who invents, patronises, or adopts, a useful improvement in the arts, but, in some instances, legal men, of great and deserved eminence, have shown dispositions hostile to patentees of new and useful inventions, claiming the only reward for their labors and ingenuity, which they can, in most instances, hope for from the laws of society.*
In Great-Britain, however, the prejudices which formerly subsisted against patents for new and useful inventions seem to have subsided, and the government, the courts of law, and the more enlightened parts of the community, appear to be actuated by that sound and liberal policy, which is alone calculated to call forth and secure to the use of the public the exertions
* It may be said that perpetuities, monopolies, and patents of concealment, were born under an unfortunate constellation, for as soon as they have been brought in question, judgment has always been given against them, and none at any time given for them; and all of them have two inseparable qualities, viz. : to be troublesome and fruitless." —Buller's Nisö Prius, p. 76.
of genius : they appear to entertain the opinion of an elegant writer, who thus expresses his sentiments on this subject. Next to a conviction of the moral and political importance of domestic trade, the best means of improving it should engage our attention. There is certainly no department of public service more useful than the patronage of that mechanical ingenuity, by whose inventions and improvements the necessity for animal labor is diminished. No prejudice can be more absurd and mischievous than that which has been frequently objected to improvements in mechanism, on the ground of their tendency to abridge the employments of the more laborious parts of society. Among the principal advantages resulting from the civil association of mankind, we may surely class the opportunity afforded individuals of dedicating their talents to the benefit of the public, and the power of the latter to bestow adequate remuneration for the time and ability so employed.
“In return for such disbursements from the common stock, the personal convenience and profit of every member of the community, are more than proportionally increased.
5 A solicitude to reduce animal labor, within moderate and reasonable limits, is not merely recommended on the score of political economy, but as one of the most amiable features of civilization, multitudes of our fellow creatures are thereby rescued from the deplorable ignorance that generally accompanies the lot