I remember reading somewhere, though cannot recall where, that the patent community was arguing that Congress was not qualified to amend the patent laws because Congressmen/Senators do not understand our patent laws. Its pretty much a given that the US Supreme Court does not understand patent law.
Well, it looks like whoever said that was correct...
Here, in a speech before the senate, he admits to suggesting an amendment to the patent law, even though he does not understand the patent law.
**December 18, 1878:
Samuel Jordan Kirkwood. Mr. President, I am not familiar with the patent law and never expect to be, and I merely suggested the doubt that arose in my own mind whether or not the insertion of this word might not require every man to be construed to have knowledge by the recording of the patent in the Patent Office.
As I before said, the purpose of this amendment, as I understand it, and certainly my own purpose in supporting it, is, as I have indicated, to give to the person who in good faith buys from a party
engaged in manufacturing an article or a party engaged in selling it in open market, without any knowledge that he is infringing the rights of any one, exemption from prosecution for damages, leaving the inventor to prosecute the manufacturer or the dealer. I understood the Senator from New Hampshire to say that it left the inventor without anything at all. Does he not have the power to enjoin the manufacturer; who is engaged in manufacturing articles in violation of his patent?