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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/562

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

be said to have been adequate. The second important consideration is that of the methods of procedure of the patentees, for it appears that very few of them had studied what had been suggested or done before by others before taking out their own patent. We are also struck by the number of really important advances that have been suggested and have failed to fructify, either from want of funds or other causes, to be forgotten for the time and to be re-invented later on by subsequent workers.

What a waste of time, expense and disappointment would be avoided if we in England helped the patentee to find out easily what had been done previously, on the lines adopted by the United States and German Patent Offices, who advise the patentee after the receipt of his provisional specification of the chief anticipatory patents, dead or alive! And ought we in England to rest content to see our patentees awaiting the report of the United States and German Patent Offices on their foreign equivalent specifications before filing their English patent claims? Ought not our Patent Office to give more facilities and assistance to the patentee?

Before proceeding further to discuss some of the possible improvements for the encouragement and protection of research and invention, I ask you to further consider the position of the inventor—the man anxious to achieve success where others have hitherto failed. To be successful he must be something of an enthusiast; and usually he is a poor man, or a man of moderate means, and dependent on others for financial assistance. Generally the problem to be attacked involves a considerable expenditure of money; some problems require great expenditure before any return can thereby accrue, even under the most favorable circumstances. In the very few cases where the inventor has some means of his own they are generally insufficient to carry him through, and there have unfortunately been many who have lost everything in the attempt. In nearly all cases the inventor has to cooperate with capital: the capitalist may be a sleeping partner, or the capital may be held by a firm or syndicate, the inventor in such cases being a partner—a junior partner—or a member of the staff. The combination may be successful and lasting, but unfortunately the best inventors are often bad men of business. The elements of the combination are often unstable, and the disturbing forces are many and active; especially is this so when the problem to be attacked is one of difficulty, necessitating various and successive schemes involving considerable expenditure, generally many times greater than that foreshadowed at the commencement of the undertaking. Under such circumstances, unless the capitalist or senior partner or board be in entire sympathy with the inventor or exercise great forbearance, stimulated by the hope of ultimate success and adequate returns, the case