Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Patents
PATENTS, or Letters Patent, are privileges obtained from the King under the Great Seal, in order to convey the title, property, and exclusive right to an invention, discovery, or peculiar establishment, &c.
Letters Patent are usually granted for the term of 14 years, upon condition that the patentee specify his invention or improvement, in such a manner that the public may receive the benefit of it, and may be at liberty to practise or employ such contrivance at the expiration of the exclusive privilege. If, however, it should be found or proved, that the patentee's claims are not supported by originality; or, that he has wilfully disguised his invention, by giving a confused and erroneous specification, the privilege becomes void; and any person is permitted to adopt and make use of it with impunity. Many patents, indeed, are believed to have been surreptitiously obtained by speculative persons; who, from sordid, lucrative motives, swear themselves to be the inventors of things which they have read in foreign books, such as are not in general circulation. These unprincipled adventurers ought to be rigorously examined, whether they have any, and what pretensions to an art or manufacture, of which they profess to be adepts. Thus, it would be easily discovered, that they are plagiarists, and impostors, who evade the provisions made by law, by couching their specifications in terms and phrases, which they themselves frequently do not understand.