+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

the mother and childthen turned away;
and walked to the door. Something in the
last tones of her voice caused a silence in the
room. Of the four persons in it not one could
utter a word, as the nurse closed the door
gently, and went out from them alone.


THERE is a formidable number of rooms
near Chancery Lane, where vexation of spirit
attends the steps of those who find themselves
involved in proceedings in law and (so-called)
equity; but one particular room is now in our
thoughtssmall and neat, indicative of
improvementin one among many things
woefully in need of being improved. Habeas
Corpus, and Fieri facias, and Nisi prius, and
the other horrors of law Latin we will lay
aside; and will endeavour to open the
door of the Patent Office Reading Room,
in Chancery Lane, without being shocked.
The subject of Patents is rather
incomprehensible to those not concerned in them,
and often disappointing to those who are;
but a statute passed in eighteen hundred and
fifty-two has brought about a change which
renders patent wisdom understandable.

The Lord Chancellor, the Master of the
Rolls, six law officers of the three kingdoms,
and other persons whom the Crown may think
fit to name, are appointed Commissioners of
Patents under the new Patent Law Amendment
Act; eight of them to manage all the
proceedings incident to the granting of new
patents, and to give increased publicity to
those already granted. They are required to
present to parliament annually a report of their
proceedings, analogous to that prepared by
the Commissioner of Patents in the United
States. They are empowered to establish one
central office, in substitution of the varied and
often conflicting offices before existing. One
novelty is, that the Commissioners are to print
and publish, and sell at a low priceor, to
present gratuitously to public institutions and
establishments -- specifications and other
documents relating to patents; to the intent that
inventors and patentees may hereafter know
what they are about. Another is, that
indexes, and all sorts of useful aids for
reference to the whole mass of patents in
past ages, are to be made. The fees and the
stampsthose inevitable and irresistible
accompaniments of all law proceedingsare
to be managed under the control of the
Treasury and the Stamp Office; and although
these are numerous enough in all conscience
on leaving petition, on notice of intention,
on sealing of letters, on filing specification,
on entry of assignment, on certificate of
licence, on caveat against declaimer, and
on other forms and processes so dearly
loved by lawyet the total sums payable
are very much lower than under the old

When the Commissioners came officially
into possession of the various documents
relating to past patents, they found the
quantity to be truly enormous, requiring
a determined and business-like system for
its due digestion. Reporting at Midsummer
eighteen hundred and fifty-four, on
the results obtained up to that time, they
showed that, in a year and three-quarters,
ending at that date, nearly five thousand
seven hundred applications for patents were
made, being at the rate of about sixty
per week. About three thousand of these
were carried through the various stages of
formality, and became valid patents; and,
in relation to these, the specifications were
all printed and published, and the drawings
engraved in lithograph outline. These official
evidences of the patents were rendered
saleable to the public, either singly or in the entire
series, at the bare cost of production; and it
was found that this cost, for the specification
and the engravings, averaged about eight-
pence for each patenta charge so reason-
able that no one having the smallest interest
in a particular patent need now be without
precise information concerning it. Each
specification was printed and published within
three weeks of its deposit at the office. To
facilitate legal proceedings in the matter of
patents, the statute whereby the
Commissioners were appointed, enacted that a
printed copy of any specification, and a
printed and coloured copy of the drawings
relating to it, might, if stamped and certified,
be received in evidence in any court of law
in the United Kingdom, thereby obviating
the necessity of producing the original
documents themselves. A supply of these printed
copies was sent to the Director of Chancery
in Edinburgh, and another to the Enrolment
Office of the Court of Chancery in Dublin,
to be available in Scotch and Irish courts of
law respectively.

So much for the current patents granted
in a period of about a year and a-half;
but as the value of the Commissioners'
labours will greatly depend on their mode
of managing the older patents, many
collateral duties were taken in hand. One
remarkable system adopted was this:
supposing evidence touching an old patent to be
required in a court of justice, the parties can
obtain printed certified copies of it. The
Commissioners will pay the cost of letter-press
and paper for the specification, the applicant
defraying the charge for lithographing and
colouring the drawings. Or the applicant
will pay for the letter-press and paper, if
there be no drawings. A patentee is often
well pleased thus to obtain twelve or
fourteen copies at a small cost; while the
Commissioners add one to the number of
old patents printed and published for general

Another labour of a valuable kind
consisted in the collecting and printing of all