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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/389

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375
THE LAW OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

conception of the mind seen only by the effect it produces while performed. But either may be the means of producing a useful result. The mixing of certain substances together or the heating of a substance to a certain temperature is a process. If the mode of doing it or the apparatus in or by which it may be done is sufficiently obvious to suggest itself to a person skilled in the particular art, then pointing out in the patent the process to be performed is sufficient, without giving directions, which would be supererogatory, as to the apparatus or method to be employed. If the mode of applying the process is not obvious, then to give a description of the process and of one particular mode by which it may be applied is sufficient. It may be that the process is susceptible of being applied in many modes and by the use of many forms of apparatus; but the inventor, if really the discoverer of the process, is not bound to describe all these in order to secure his exclusive right to it. What is required is, that he shall describe some particular mode or apparatus so as to show that the process is capable of being exhibited and performed in actual use. This is the latest utterance of the Supreme Court on the lawfulness of a patent for a process.

A decision comes from England bearing upon the value of such patents. The inventor of an improved process for making salicylic acid obtained a patent in England; but was soon undersold by an inventor of a rival process, who established a factory in Germany and brought the acid manufactured there into England for sale. The patentee brought suit. The counsel for the German manufacturer argued that the patent forbade only manufacturing in England, It did not forbid manufacturing in Germany, and any goods lawfully manufactured in Germany might be brought into England for sale. "Suppose," said he, "some one patents a process for making flour by crushing wheat instead of grinding it, and French millers, generally, adopt the mode. Is it thereafter unlawful to import flour from France?" But the Court of Appeal decided in favor of the patentee, saying that the exclusive right secured by a patent for a process must be considered to include a monopoly of the sale in England of products made according to the process, no matter where they are manufactured. For these patents expressly forbid any person directly or indirectly to use the process. Now, a person who procures the product to be made in a foreign country and then brings it to England for sale is certainly using the invention "indirectly."

Many illustrations are noticed in recent books of reports, of the expense and loss sustained by inventors through obtaining patents for trivial devices. They know, theoretically, that a patent, to be sustained in the courts, must be for an invention which is "new and useful"; but fail, practically, to apply the test. Evidently the existing system tends to betray an over-sanguine inventor. A solicitor of patents will cheerfully take a fee and undertake to obtain letters.