1902 Encyclopedia > Patents


PATENTS. Patents for inventions, instruments which formerly bore the great seal of the United Kingdom, are now issued at the Patent Office in London under the seal of that office. By their means inventors obtain a monopoly in their inventions for fourteen years, a term which, if insufficient to remunerate the inventor, can be extended. This monopoly is founded on exactly the same principle as the copyright enjoyed by authors and artists. There are persons who argue that no such privilege should be permitted; there are others who think that the most trifling exertions of the inventive faculties should be pro-tected. The right course lies between these extremes. All civilized nations have in modern times considered it desir-able to give inventors an exclusive right to their inven-tions for a limited period, not only as a matter of justice to individuals but as a piece of sound policy tending to the advantage of the whole community. The monopoly is granted in the expectation that the inventor will derive some profit from it; and the hope of profit is known to be a great stimulus to invention. When an author writes a book, or an artist designs a picture, the law allows a right of property to those persons in their productions, and accompanies the recognition of this right with the power to repress infringements. If this were not so, probably very few persons would employ their time in writing books or creating works of art; and hardly any one will be bold enough to assert that the extinction of the race of authors and artists is to be desired. The same principle applies to inventors, who ought to have the works of their brain protected from piracy fully as much as the other classes of mental producers. By holding out to them the pro-spect of gain they are induced, at a present loss of time and money, to attempt to discover improvements in the useful arts, in machinery, in manufacturing processes, &c. ; and thus the interests of the community are advanced more rapidly than if such exertions had not been brought into play. Just as the rule of rewarding inventors is in theory attended with some difficulty, so is the practical ap-plication of it. To grant a very long term of exclusive possession would be detrimental to the public, since it would tend to stop the progress of improvement. A limited property must therefore be allowed,—large enough to give the inventor an opportunity of reaping a fair reward, but not barring the way for an unreasonable period. And, when this compromise has been decided on, it will be seen how difficult it may be to determine beforehand what is the real merit of an invention, and apportion the time to that merit. Hence it has been found necessary to allot one fixed period for all kinds of inventions falling within the purview of the patent laws. This regulation appears to be open to the complaint that the least valuable and the most meritorious inventions are placed on the same footing. But it may be replied that in the result this is of little consequence, since meritorious inventions alone obtain the patronage of the public, those which are destitute of value being neglected. Besides, if the complaint were well founded, there is here no sound argument against the policy of privileges of this nature, seeing that it is impos-sible to weigh beforehand one invention against another in the scale of merit, or to obtain a true standard of comparison.

Leaving the discussion of general considerations, we will now give an outline of the law affecting patent privi-leges in the United Kingdom. Formerly the reigning prince considered himself entitled, as part of his preroga-tive, to grant privileges of the nature of monopolies to any one who had gained his favour. These grants became so numerous that they were oppressive and unjust to various classes of the commonwealth; and hence, in the reign of James I., a statute was wrung from that king which de-clared all monopolies that were grievous and inconvenient to the subjects of the realm to be void. (See MONOPOLY.) There was, however, a special exception from this enact-ment of all letters patent and grants of privilege of the " sole working or making of any manner of new manufac-ture within the realm to the true and first inventor of such manufacture, which others at the time of making such letters patent and grants should not use, so they be not contrary to law, nor mischievous to the state by raising of the prices of commodities at home or hurt of trade or 'generally inconvenient." Upon these words hangs the whole law of letters patent for inventions. Many statutes were afterwards passed, but these were all repealed by the Patent Act of 1883 (46 and 47 Vict. c. 57), which, besides introducing a new procedure, modified the law in several particulars. When the law remains unaltered, it has to be gathered from the numerous decisions of the courts, for patent law is for the most part "judge-made law." Of the law as it now stands we proceed to give an outline.

The inventions for which patents are obtained are chiefly either vendible articles formed by chemical or mechanical operations, such as cloth, alloys, vulcanized india-rubber, (fee, or machinery and apparatus, or processes. It may be remarked here that a scientific principle cannot form the subject of a valid patent unless its application to a practical and useful end and object is shown. An abstract notion, a philosophical idea, may be extremely valuable in the realm of science, but before it is allowed to form a sound basis for a patent the world must be shown howr to apply it so as to gain therefrom some immediate material advantage. With regard to processes, the language of the statute of James has been strained to hring them within the words "any manner of new manufacture," and judges on the bench have admitted that the exposition of the Act has gone much beyond the letter. However, it is un-doubted law that a process is patentable; and patents are accordingly obtained for processes every day.

The principal classes of patentable inventions seem to be these:—(1) new contrivances applied to new ends, (2) new contrivances applied to old ends, (3) new combinations of old parts, whether relating to material objects or pro-cesses, (4) new methods of applying a well-known object.

With regard to a patent for the new application of a well-known object it may be remarked that there must be some display of ingenuity in making the application, otherwise the patent will be invalid on the ground that the subject-matter is destitute of novelty. For example, a machine already in use as an excavator on land cannot be separately patented as an excavator under water; nor can a machine employed in the finishing of cotton goods be afterwards patented without alteration as applied to the finishing of woollen fabrics. A small amount of inven-tion is indeed .sufficient to support a patent where the utility to be derived from the result is great. A small step in advance, a slight deviation from known processes, may have been apparently brought about by the exercise of little ingenuity; but, if the improvement be manifest, either as saving time or labour, a patent in respect of it will stand. The mere omission of a step from some com-monly practised process has been held sufficient to support a patent for a new method of manufacture; and how often do we see what appears to be a very trifling degree of novelty attended with very advantageous consequences, sometimes resulting in the entire revolution of a manu-facture, or in a lowering of price appreciable in every pound of an article extensively used by the public 1

Whatever be the nature of the invention, it must possess the incidents of utility and novelty, else any patent obtained in respect of it will be invalid. The degree of utility need not, however, be great. As to novelty, this is the rock upon which most patents split; for, if it Can be shown that other persons have used or published the invention before the date of the patent, it will fall to the ground, although the patentee was an independent inventor deriving his ideas from no one else. The difficulty of steer-ing clear of this rock will be apparent at once. Suppose A in London patents an invention the result of his own ingenuity and patient study, and it afterwards appears that B, in some distant part of the kingdom, had been previously openly using the same thing in his workshop, A's patent is good for nothing. Thus, in one of the cases which arose out of Heath's carburet of manganese patent — a patent celebrated in the law-courts—it appeared that three firms had used a process in the manufacture of steel which was substantially the same as that forming the subject of the patent. They had used the process openly in the way of their trade previous to the date of the patent, although it had not become generally known. This prior use of the invention was held to deprive the patent of validity. It is therefore a very frequent sub-ject of inquiry, whether an invention has been previously used to such an extent as to have been publicly used in the sense attached by the courts to this phrase. The inventor himself is not allowed to use his invention, either in public or secretly, with a view to profit, before the date of the patent. Thus, if he manufactures an article by some new process, keeping the process an entire secret, but selling the produce, he cannot afterwards obtain a patent in respect of it. If he were allowed to do this he might in many cases easily obtain a monopoly in his in-vention for a much longer period than that allowed by law. The rule, that an inventor's use of the invention invalidates a subsequent patent does not, however, apply to cases where the use was only by way of experiment with a view to improve or test the invention. And it has been repeatedly decided that the previous experiments of other persons, if incomplete or abandoned before the realization of the discovery, will not have the effect of vitiating a patent. Even the prior discovery of an inven-tion will not prevent another independent discoverer from obtaining a valid patent if the earlier inventor kept the secret to himself, the law holding that he is the " true and first inventor " who first obtains a patent.

When an invention is the joint production of more persons than one, they must all apply for and obtain a joint patent, for a patent is rendered invalid on showing that a material part of the invention was due to some one not named therein. The mere suggestion of a workman employed by an inventor to carry out his ideas will not, however, require that he should be joined, provided that the former adds nothing substantial to the invention, but merely works out in detail the principle discovered by his employer. In certain cases in which patents taken out by the celebrated Sir Richard Arkwright came to be in-quired into, it was proved that the inventions were really made by persons in Arkwright's employment. Their value being perceived by him, he adopted them, and obtained the patents in question, but under these circumstances they were adjudged invalid.

If it can be shown that the invention in respect of which a patent has been obtained was previously described in a printed book in circulation in Great Britain, whether such book be in the English or a foreign language, the patent is also invalid, because a man has no right to obtain a monopoly in that which is already a part of the stock of public information; and it is not necessary to prove that the patentee was acquainted with the book, and derived his ideas from that source. The most usual prior publication fatal to a patent is a prior specification of a similar invention. But persons are allowed to obtain patents for inventions imported from abroad, if such in-ventions are new within the realm, and if they acknow-ledge, on the face of their applications, that the inventions are imported, not original. Such patents are now common.

The attributes of novelty and utility being possessed in due degree by an invention, the chief remaining difficulty with which a patent has to contend resides' in the com-plete specification, the instrument by which the inventor describes the nature of the invention and the means by which it may be carried into effect. An inventor is bound, in return for the monopoly conceded to him, to instruct the public how to work the invention when the monopoly shall have expired, and to inform them in the meantime what it is they are shut out from using; and now the patent is not granted till the complete specification is filed. The patentee is bound to make by this instrument a full disclosure of his secret; he must not keep anything back either wilfully or accidentally ; he must render everything plain and clear, showing no attempt to mislead, and leaving nothing ambiguous ; he must distinguish what is old from what is new; he must point out distinctly what it is that he claims as his own exclusive property, and he must take care that he claims no more than he is entitled to. Very many patents have been invalidated by a disregard of the requirements of the law, the most, common fault being that the specification claims too much ; in other words, it claims something that is already public property, or another man's patented invention. And here we are brought back to the question of novelty. If a patentee discovers that his specification claims more than he is entitled to, he may put the matter right by filing an amendment, and excising the superfluous parts; but he will not be allowed to extend his claims in any degree. He may cut out anything, but he can insert nothing, except matter which is of the nature of correction or explanation.

The term for which a patent is originally granted is fourteen years, but the crown has been empowered by parliament and through the intervention of the judicial committee of the privy council, before which the proceedings take place, to extend the time of a patent from its expiration for any additional time not longer than fourteen years. But an extension will only be granted on the patentee showing that the invention is meritorious, and that he has not been adequately rewarded in spite of his best efforts directed to that end. What is adequate re-ward depends on the special circumstances of each case. The crown has hitherto had a right to the free use of a patented invention, but this right has been abolished by the new Act.
Patent privileges, like most other rights, can fee made the subject of sale., Partial interests can also be carved out of them by means of licences, instruments which empower other persons to exercise the invention, either universally and for the full time of the patent (when they are tantamount to an assignment of the patentee's entire rights), or for a limited time, or within a limited district. By an exclusive licence is meant one that restrains the patentee from granting other licences to any one else. By means of a licence a patentee may derive benefit from his patent without entering into trade and without running the risks of a partnership.

One of the regulations of the recent Act is that a patentee can be compelled by the Board of Trade to grant licences to persons who are able to show that the patent is not being worked in the United Kingdom, or that the reasonable requirements of the public with respect to the invention cannot be supplied, or that any person is pre-vented from working or using to the best advantage an invention of which he is possessed.

A patentee's remedy for an infringement of his rights is by civil suit, there being no criminal proceedings in such a case. In prosecuting such suit he subjects those rights to a searching examination, for the alleged infringer is at liberty to show that the invention is not new, that the patentee is not the true and first inventor, ifcc., as well as to prove that the alleged infringement is not really an infringement. But it may here be remarked that a patentee is not bound down (unless he chooses so to be) to the precise mode of carrying the invention into effect described in the specification. If the principle is new, it is not to be expected that he can describe every mode of working it; he will sufficiently secure the principle by giving some illustrations of it; and no person will be per-mitted to adopt some mode of carrying the same principle into effect on the ground that such mode has not been described by the patentee. On the other hand, when the principle is not new, a patentee can only secure the par-ticular method which he has invented, and other persons may safely use other methods of effecting the same object. Instances of this occur every day; and it is well known that scores of patents have been taken out for screw-propellers, steam-hammers, water-meters, &c, each of which is limited to the particular construction described, and cannot be extended further. Again, where the inven-tion patented consists of a combination of parts, some old and some new, the whole constituting a new machine or a new process, it is not open to the world to copy the new part and reject the rest. A man is not permitted to allege that the patent is for a combination, and that, the identical combination not having been used, there has been no in-fringement. If he has borrowed the substance of the invention, it will be held that he has infringed the patent.

A patent may be revoked by a court of law on any one taking proceedings for that purpose, and showing good ground for a revocation, such as want of novelty or utility in the invention, the fact of the patentee not being the inventor, insufficiency of the specification, fraud, or the like.

Patents are not now extended to the colonies, and such of the English colonies as possess a legislature are gradually acquiring patent laws for themselves (see infra).

The new Act enables the crown to make arrangements with foreign states for the mutual protection of inventions, under which a person who has applied for protection for any invention in a foreign state will be entitled to apply for a patent in England within a limited time in priority to other applicants (see p. 358).

The patent business of the United Kingdom is transacted at the Patent Office in London under the superintendence of the comptroller, an officer appointed by the Board of Trade, under whose direction he performs his duties. At this office is kept a register of all patents issued, of assign-ments of patents, licences granted under them, &c. An illustrated journal of patent inventions is published at the same office, where printed copies of all specifications can also be obtained. The proceedings taken with a view to obtain a patent commence with an application drawn up in a special form and accompanied by a description of the invention and a declaration as to its originality. Any person, whether a British subject or not, may apply for a patent. The actual inventor must always be a party to the application, but he may join other persons with him-self, and the patent when issued will be granted to them all jointly. The fees payable to Government on patents have been considerably reduced by the new Act, and they may now be paid by convenient annual instalments.

During the ten years ending with 1882 the average annual number of patents issued was 3506. There has been a large increase under the new law, the number of patents applied for in the first three months of 1884 being 5748.

Patents are frequently obtained through the intervention of persons termed patent agents, who devote themselves to this branch of business.

United States.—Under an Act passed in 1874 a patent must in all cases be applied for in the name of the original inventor, although he may contemporaneously execute an assignment of the invention, and the patent will thereupon be issued to the assignee. Every application is referred to an official examiner. The patent will be refused if any part of the invention is wanting in novelty, or if the application is not in proper form. The applicant may, however, make a re-application, and if the inventor is dis-satisfied with the report of the examiner he can appeal. Patents are issued for the term of seventeen years, but expire with any earlier foreign patents for the same inven-tion. A foreign inventor may obtain a patent if his inven-tion has not been in public use or on sale in the United States for more than two years prior to his application.

Patent Laws in India and the British Colonies.

Prior to 1852 British letters patent extended to all Her Majesty's colonies, but the Patent Act of 1852 restricted the rights granted to Great Britain and Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. Soon after the date of this Act the legislatures of the colonies began to pass Acts of their own for the protection of inven-tions, and at the present time most English colonies have patent laws. As a rule, the application in the colony must be made by petition accompanied with a specification and drawings of similar nature to those used in the British application ; and in most cases the application must be made by the inventor himself or by his assignee, or by some person holding his power of attorney. The patents are in all cases assignable and the deeds of assignment must be registered in the respective colonies. The patents are usually granted for a term of fourteen years, and the inventions must not have been publicly used in the colony prior to the date of the application. Inventions may be protected in most if not all the other British colonies by special Acts of the colonial legis-latures.

Australian Colonies.—The colonial Act for New South Wales is dated 14th September 1852. Applications are referred to a board consisting of two scientific men, and upon their report and the payment of £20 the governor will grant letters patent of registra-tion, which have the effect of letters patent. These letters of registra-tion are granted for the term of fourteen years. The New South Wales Act of 1852 still continues in force in Queensland. By an order in council of 6th November 1859 patents similar in terms to those granted in New South Wales can be obtained, and at the same cost. By an Act passed in 1867 inventions can be provisionally protected, but the provisional protection only appears to be useful to residents in the colony. In South Australia the law of patents is governed by the Acts of 1877 and 1881. The application is submitted to an official examination. The patent is granted for a term of fourteen years, and is subject to taxes of £2 10s. to be paid before the end of the third year and £2 f 0s. before the end of the seventh year. The invention must be worked in the colony within three years from the date of the grant. In Victoria power is given to the governor to issue letters patent by Act No. 240, 1865. The sum of £15 must be paid before the expiration of the third year, and £20 before the expiration of the seventh year. For Western Australia the colonial Act is dated 15th August 1872, under which bona fide holders of letters patent in any other country can obtain letters of registration having the force of patents and expiring with the original patent. The government fee is £25. The governor has also power to grant original patents, but these are seldom applied for except by residents in the colony. The government fee on these is £50. The application for a patent must be made before the application is made in any other colony or country.

British Guiana.—The law of patents is governed by an ordinance dated 12th July 1861. Patents are granted very much in the same form and on the same conditions as British letters patent. A duty of $100 is payable before the end of the seventh year. The governor has power to prolong the term for a period not exceeding seven years.

British Honduras.—The Act for amending the law for granting patents for inventions dated 10th September 1862 rules here. This Act has provisions very similar to the British Patent Law Amend-ment Act 1852. The government fee on sealing is $30, and the further government duties payable are $50 at the end of the third year and $100 at the end of the seventh year. Prolongations of the original term of fourteen years may be obtained for an addi-tional term not exceeding seven years.

Canada.—The Acts in force are those of 1872, 1875, and 1883. Inventors or their assignees may obtain patents for fifteen years for all inventions not having been in public use or on sale in Canada for more than a year prior to the application. When a period of more than twelve months has elapsed since the date of any other patent for the same invention the application will be refused. A government duty of $20 must be paid for the first five years, $40 for the second five years, and $60 for the last five years. These duties can be paid either altogether on application or by three instalments. The invention must be worked in Canada within two years from the date of the patent. The patent is void if after the expiration of twelve months from the grant the patentee imports into Canada the objects of the invention manufactured elsewhere.

Cape of Good Hope.—The Act of 1860 prescribes a system very similar to that laid down by the English Patent Act of 1852. A stamp duty of £10 is payable at the expiration of the third year and £20 at the expiration of the seventh year of the grant. The patent will expire with the expiration of any earlier patent in any other country for the same invention.

Ceylon.—The inventions ordinance of 1859 governs the law of patents here. Patents are granted for a term of fourteen years from the time of filing the specification, and the governor has power to grant prolongations not exceeding fourteen years. The fee on filing the specification is £10.

Hong-Kong.—By the law of 3d July 1862 the governor in council may grant patents for inventions which have already been patented in England to the inventor or to the owner by assignment of the British patent. The patent will extend over the same term as the British patent. Subjects of foreign states not having British patents cannot obtain patents in Hong-Kong.

India.—The law of patents is governed by an Act dated 17th May 1859. Where there is no prior English patent the invention must not have been used or published before filing the application. Where an English patent has already been obtained, the application must be made within twelve months from the date of the English patent. The exclusive privilege is acquired by merely filing a specification of the invention upon leave obtained from the governor-general for that purpose, and no patent is issued. The governor-general has power to extend the original term for another term not exceeding fourteen years. The government fees on application amount to £10 ; no further duties are payable.

Jamaica.—Chap. 30, 21 Vict. 1857, governs the law of patents here. The invention must be brought into operation in the island within two years from the date of the patent. A patent bears a stamp duty of £6 10s., and there is a reference to the attorney, general, upon which he is paid a fee of £5. The duration of the patent is limited to that of any previous foreign patent. Improvements on the original invention may be protected by certificates of addition. Patents may be extended for a further period of seven years beyond the original term of fourteen years.

Leeward Islands. -—The law is regulated by the Acts of 1876 and 1878, the provisions being similar to those of the English Patent Act of 1852. The patent expires with the termination of any earlier patent elsewhere for the same invention. The payments amount to £28 on every application which is not opposed, and a duty of £10 is payable at the termination of the third year and £20 at the termination of the seventh year.

Mauritius.—The law is regulated by an ordinance dated 22d May 1875. The governor has power to extend patents for any period not exceeding fourteen years beyond the original term of fourteen years. A patent may be applied for by the executors or administrators of a deceased inventor. Payments of £12 are required to be made upon application for the patent and upon sealing.

Natal.—The provisions of the colonial Act of 1870 are similar to those of the English Patent Act of 1852. The fees on sealing are £1 10s., and there is a third year's duty of £5, and a seventh year's duty of £10. The patent expires with the termination of any British or foreign patent of earlier date. The lieutenant-governor can grant a prolongation of the origimtl term for a fresh term not exceeding fourteen years.

Newfoundland.—Under an Act passed in 1856 patents are granted for fourteen years, but may be extended upon application for a further period of seven years. The patent expires with the expiration of any previous foreign patent for the same invention. Improvements may be protected by certificates of addition. The invention must be worked in the colony within two years from the date of the patent.

New Zealand.—Under the New Zealand Patent Act of 1883 inventors can obtain either letters patent or letters of registration as they think fit. The fee for letters of registration is £10, and for letters patent £2 10s., with a further duty of £10 at the end of five years. Letters of registration are granted as of course upon proof of the applicant being the actual owner of the foreign patent. The invention patented must be worked in the colony within two years from the date of the patent.

Tasmania.—The colonial Act for Tasmania is dated 5th November 1858. The proceedings prescribed are very similar to those in England. The government fees are £7 10s. on application, £15 at the end of the third year, and £20 at the end of the seventh year.

Patents may also be obtained in St Helena, the Straits Settlements, and Trinidad.

Foreign Patent Laws. Argentine Republic.—Patents are granted under a law dated 11th October 1864, for five, ten, or fifteen years, to the inventor or to his assignee. The applications are subjected to an official examination, and the patent when granted is liable to government fees and stamp duties, which vary from about £20 to £60, according to the term of the patent. The invention must not have been published either at home or abroad prior to the application, and must be worked in the republic within two years from the date of the issue of the patent.

Austria-Hungary.—By an imperial decree of the loth August 1852, although separate patents are issued, they are made upon one application. The protection extends to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Where the applicant for a patent is a foreigner he must have obtained a patent in his own country for the same invention, and patents are only granted to the original inventor or his assignee. Inventions are considered new when at the time of the applications for patents they have not been put into operation or made public in the empire. The government taxes commence at the rate of 26 florins per annum for the first five years, and gradually increase until in the fifteenth year the duty is 132 florins. If the patent is originally granted for less than fifteen years it may at any time be prolonged for that term. The invention must be worked in the empire within a year from the date of the patent, and the working must not be suspended for more than two years; during its continu-ance there is no objection to the patented articles being imported from a foreign country.

Belgium.—Patents are granted to the inventor or to his assignee, or to any one holding the authority of the inventor for that purpose. The term is fixed at twenty years, except in the case of inventions previously patented elsewhere, when the Belgium patent expires with the previous foreign patent of the greatest length. Patents are subject to an annual tax beginning at 10 francs for the first year, and increasing annually at the rate of 10 francs. Patents of addition expiring with the original patent may be obtained. The invention must be worked in Belgium within one year from its being worked abroad, but patented articles manufactured abroad may be introduced into Belgium.

Brazil.—By a statute passed in 1882 patents are granted alike to natives and to foreigners. In the case of a foreigner the applica-tion must be made in Brazil within seven months from the date of his foreign patent. The specification must be in the Portuguese language. Patents are granted for a term of fifteen years, subject to the payment of a duty of £1 for the first year, and increasing £1 yearly. The patent must be put into operation in Brazil within a year from the date of the grant, and the working must not be interrupted for more than a year. The Brazilian patent expires on the expiration of any earlier foreign patent for the same invention. The foreign patentee must appoint an accredited agent to represent him in Brazil.

Chili [Chile].—Patents are granted for a term of ten years, subject to a tax of £10 to be paid on application. An extension of a patent may be obtained when the importance of the invention is considered sufficient to warrant it. The invention must be worked in Chili within a term fixed in the patent, and the working must not be discontinued as long as the patent is valid.

Denmark.—Native inventors may obtain patents for fifteen years, but patents granted to foreigners are limited to five years. A tax of 60 francs is payable on every patent. The invention must be worked in the country during the first year of the patent, and must be continued without interruption, but the patentee can import the patented article into the country from abroad.

France.—Grants of patents (brevets d'invention) are regulated in France by the law of 5th July 1844. Patents are granted to inventors or their assignees, whether natives or foreigners, and the French patent expires with any foreign patent of earlier date. Applications for French patents must be made prior to the filing of the complete specification in any foreign country. Patents are granted for a term of fifteen years upon payment of an annual duty of £4. All the duties must be paid up prior to an assignment of the patent being registered. Alterations, additions, or improve-ments may be protected by patents of addition which expire with the original grant. The subject of the patent must be manufac-tured entirely in France, and cannot be imported from a foreign country without invalidating the patent. The invention must be put into execution within two years from the date of the grant, and the working must not then cease for any period of two con-secutive years. The patent extends to all the French colonies.

Germany.—By a law dated 25th Hay 1877 patents are granted for fifteen years to natives and foreigners. The invention must not have been previously described in a printed publication in any-way. The patentee may obtain supplementary patents for improve-ments expiring with the original patent. A government duty of £1 10s. is paid on the issue of the patent, together with an annuity commencing at £2 10s. and increasing by £2 10s. each year for the whole term. The Government may revoke the patent if the invention has not been carried out in Germany within three years from the date of the patent.

Italy. —Patents are granted only to inventors or their assignees for terms varying from one to fifteen years. The publication of a previous foreign patent does not invalidate the grant provided the application is made during the continuance of the foreign patent, but the Italian patent will expire with the previous foreign patent. Patents of addition are granted expiring with the original patent. Patents are liable to taxes amounting to about 50 francs for each of the first three years of the patent, and increasing gradually. The invention must be worked in Italy within two years from the date of the grant. The description of the invention may be either in the Italian or the French language.

Norway.-— By laws of 15th July 1839 and 9th May 1842 patents are granted for a term not exceeding ten years to inventors only. The invention must not have been published in Norway prior to the application, which is subject to an official examination, not usually of a stringent character. A payment of 10 specie dollars must be made in respect of each application. The invention must be put in practice in the country within two years from the date of the grant.

Paraguay.—tinder a law of 20th May 1845 citizens or foreigners are alike entitled to protection, and the term of the grant varies from two to ten years. Where there is a previous foreign patent for the same invention the patent is not valid for more than six months beyond the termination of the foreign patent. The invention patented must be worked within two years from the date of the grant.

Portugal.—By a royal decree of 31st December 1852 inventors, whether natives or foreigners, may obtain patents for terms varying from one to fifteen years. Certificates of addition are also granted, but expire with the original patent. A patent will not be granted to an inventor for a longer term than that of his original patent. The government taxes amount to about £1 8s. per annum, in addi-tion to which certain official fees are payable. The patent becomes void if the invention is not carried into practice within two years from the date of its grant.

Russia.—The law is set forth in several imperial decrees, under which patents are granted to natives and foreigners alike for the term of three, five, or ten years, and upon payment of government duties of 90 roubles for three years, 150 roubles for five years, and 450 roubles for ten years. The patent also covers the kingdom of Poland. There is great delay in obtaining patents. A period of from one to two years usually elapses between the application and the date of the grant. The specification must be written in the Russian language. The invention must be worked in Russia within one quarter of the time for which the patent is granted. Separate patents are issued for Finland.

Spain.—The law is dated 1st August 1878. Patents are granted to foreigners as well as to natives for terms varying from five to twenty years. The application must be made prior to the publica-tion of the specification of the invention in another country. The annual taxes begin with 10 francs for the first year, and increase at the rate of 10 francs a year. The patent covers the Spanish colonies of Cuba, Porto-Rico, and the Philippine Islands. The specification must be made in the Spanish language. Certificates of addition are granted for improvements, expiring with the original patent. The invention must be put into operation within two years from the date of the grant.

Sweden.—Patents are granted to natives and foreigners for terms varying from three to fifteen years, but the patent of a foreigner expires with the expiration of the foreign patent. The invention must be put into operation within the country before the expiration of two years from the date of the grant.

Turkey.—Under a law dated 2d March 1880 patents are granted to natives or foreigners for five, ten, or fifteen years, subject to an annual payment of two Turkish pounds. A patent expires with the termination of any earlier foreign patent for the same invention. Certificates of alteration, addition, or improvement are granted, and expire with the termination of the original grant. The inven -tion must be worked within two years from the date of the patent, and the working must not be discontinued for two consecutive years subsequently. Patented articles manufactured abroad cannot be imported into Turkey without invalidating the patent.

In addition to the above-mentioned countries the following also have laws for the protection of inventions under which foreigners may obtain patents:—United States of Colombia, Guatemala, Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, Mexico, Nicaragua, and San Salvador.

International Patents.

The Governments of Belgium, Brazil, France, Guatemala, Holland, Italy, Portugal, San Salvador, Servia, Spain, and Switzerland have recently signed, and Great Britain is about to sign, an international convention relating to patents, the salient points of which are :— (1) that the subjects of each of the above states shall in all the other states, as regards patents, enjoy the advantages that their respective laws grant to their own subjects ; (2) that any person who has duly registered an application for a patent in any one of the states shall enjoy a right of priority protecting the first patentee against any acts accomplished in the interval for a term of six months—a month longer being allowed for countries beyond the sea ; (3) that the introduction by the patentee into the country where the patent has been granted of objects manufactured in any of the other states shall not entail forfeiture ; but the patentee remains bound to work his patent in conformity with the laws of the country into which lie introduces the patented objects ; (4) that the states agree to grant temporary protection to patentable inventions for articles appearing at officially recognized inter-national exhibitions.

It is understood that Holland and Switzerland, where there are at present no patent laws, will shortly adopt measures in pursuance of the terms of the above convention whereby inventions may be protected. (J. H. J.)

The above article was written by: J. Henry Johnson, Solicitor, London.

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