Monday, April 23, 2018

A Patent Office "Educational Bureau" with Field Agents?

by Steve Reiss (stevenreiss@scienbizippc.com)
If we as individuals and as a nation are to be industrially and economically prepared and efficient to meet the necessities of war as well as to compete for industrial supremacy in times of peace, it is essential that our condition of industrial progress and preparedness be based upon certain and secure foundations.
James Lightfoot (US patent examiner), "A Proposed Department of Invention and Discovery", 1 J. Patent Office Society 116, 116 (1918).

The following are excerpts from Lightfoot's article's proposals on how to reorganize the Patent Office. Lightfoot suggests the creation of several bureaus within an independent Patent Office, including:

  • An Executive Bureau
  • Bureau of Information and Education
  • Bureau of Patents and Publications
  • Bureau or Division of Utility
  • Bureau of Validity Examinations; and
  • Bureau of Priority of Inventions
Page 124-130.
 
The most interesting of these Bureaus is the Bureau of Information and Education. Lightfoot describes it as follows:

This bureau should be equipped with men and full facilities for promoting the dissemination of knowledge of the true meaning and provisions of the Patent System.

Specially is this essential because in its most fundamental sense the Patent System is an industrial educational system and it constitutes one of our most glaring national errors that the public in whose interests the Patent System was established has been kept in ignorance of its true. meaning and intent.

This Educational Bureau should be charged with the duty of establishing a system to instruct the inventing public as to how to prepare to make inventions, how to invent in the interest of the public, and with profit to themselves, what, to invent, how to avoid losses through abandonment or want of knowledge as to how to proceed after conception or reduction to practice to avoid complications, how to obtain patents of value, how to study the prior arts before inventing, how to select competent attorneys, in fact everything connected with making and patenting and marketing inventions just as the Department of Agriculture has, through bulletins, publications and field agents, instructed the farmer in all respects how to prepare to produce crops, how to produce them, how to protect and conserve them when produced and how to market them in the most efficient way.
The incalculable values in time, money and energy that have been wasted in inventing useless things, in reinventing things that have been shown to be old, and the great values in inventions lost to the nation because the inventors have not known how properly to develop them to material form and how to have them properly disclosed and protected in letters patent, clearly indicate the great need of educational work along these lines.
The workmen in the shops and factories, in the laboratories and on the farms know little if anything of their rights or responsibilities in relation to invention, and manufacturers and their employees know little in relation to the same.
This condition has resulted in the grant of many patents to employers for inventions made by employees and has resulted in granting some patents to employees that have been made by employers, all of which patents being thus rendered invalid, have produced complex business conditions.

If it be true, as has been stated, that unscrupulous industrial institutions have pirated inventions in various stages of their development and that an enemy propaganda has been extended even to pirating inventions in the making and before being patented, it is clear that inventors should be taught to protect their inventions in the making and when completed from these enemies and from others who would pirate them.
And if the spirit of inventions is to be encouraged, fostered and promoted in the national interests, it is quite obvious that this Educational Bureau should seek to promote the instruction and study in our educational institutions of the philosophy of invention and the true meaning and importance of the Patent System. And if the spirit of inventions is to be encouraged, fostered and promoted in the national interests, it is quite obvious that this Educational Bureau should seek to promote the instruction and study in our educational institutions of the philosophy of invention and the true meaning and importance of the Patent System.

Included in this Educational Bureau may be a corps of Patent Field Agents- just as there are Agricultural, Land and Pension Field Agents, who hi cooperation with inventors, attorneys, manufacturers and capitalists, should seek to aid, in every possible way, the interests of inventors and manufacturers, because in this way the public interests will best be subserved.
The Division of Information of this bureau should be a well organized institution of well qualified experts who should furnish full and accurate information to solicitors, inventors and industrial institutions, as to fields of validity search, and as to all matters in, relation to procedure and practices involved in the activities of the department.
 Pages 124-126.
***


Examiner Lightfoot's proposals were reported to the engineering and technical public in a "Special Correspondence", in American Machinist.magazine, entitled "Proposed Increased Efficiency in Patent Office", 50 American Machinist 1044-45 (1919). The magazine expressed no opinion on Lightfoot's proposal.

Sunday, April 22, 2018