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COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, D. C., July 15, 1899.
SIR: Complying with the request contained in your letter of June 15, 1899, I beg to submit herewith the following report of the business of the United States Patent Office for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1899: Applications and careats received.
Patents granted and trade-marks, labels, and prints registered.
Number of applications awaiting action on the part of the office on July 1, 1899. 2, 989
Applications for patents, including reissues, designs, trade-marks, labels, and prints.
Summarizing these tables there were received in the last fiscal year 35,352 applications for mechanical patents, 2,292 applications for designs, 91 applications for reissues, 1,610 caveats, 1,861 applications for trade-marks, 612 applications for labels, and 112 applications for prints. There were 23,550 patents granted, including reissues and designs; 1,406 trade-marks, 372 labels, and 76 prints were registered. The number of patents that expired was 16,670. The number of allowed applications which were by operation of law forfeited for nonpayment of the final fees was 4,021. The total receipts of the office were $1,209,554.88; the total expenditures were $1,148,663.48, and the surplus of receipts over expenditures, being the amount turned into the Treasury, was $60,891.40.
On the 27th of June, 1899, every Examiner had his new work within one month from date of filing, and his amended work within fifteen days of date. This is the first time since December, 1889, when the present form of weekly reports was adopted, that such a report has or could have been made.
ORGANIZATION OF THE CLASSIFICATION DIVISION.
The most notable advance of the year in the work of the office has been the establishment of a classification division and its entry upon a thorough revision and extension of the classification of patents and printed publications, the examination of which lies at the foundation of our patent system. The necessity for this work, after being repeatedly called to the attention of Congress, was finally recognized, and an act entitled "An act for revising and perfecting the classification of letters patent and printed publications in the Patent Office" was passed by Congress and received the approval of the President on June 10, 1898, and went into force at the commencement of the fiscal year. Before beginning the work of classification the Principal Examiners and other members of the examining corps were invited to give their views upon the subject, and after giving careful consideration to the same an order establishing a classification division was made on November 17, 1898, and the division placed in charge of a Principal Examiner with the title of "Chief of the Classification Division."
As a preliminary step it was considered desirable to ascertain how much of the material was available, and to that end it was decided to rearrange the original drawings of all patents in numerical order and to prepare a list on which they could be checked.
These drawings were heretofore arranged by subclasses, and it was necessary to know the classification of a patent before it could be found, which often necessitated a long search. By the numerical arrangement it is possible to find it at once, and at the same time much storage space is saved. The arrangement of these drawings numerically was at once commenced, and as the first 10,000 patents had no numbers and were only identified by name and date, considerable additional labor was involved to find and properly arrange such earlier patents. The entire work of arranging the drawings of nearly 800,000 patents and trade-marks has been substantially completed.
While the arranging of the drawings was proceeding the work of classification has also been going on. This involves the careful consideration of each patent, in order to place it in its proper class and subclass. Many of these patents have to be read to be fully understood, and much care must be taken to select titles which will clearly indicate the contents of each subclass and to preserve clear lines between them. Cross references are also necessary between subclasses of the same class by reason of the presence of mixed matter in the same patent. A system of card index of subclasses and other details have been perfected which will make it possible to detect and remedy any losses. Arrangements have also been made for the preservation of the classification and for the prevention of unauthorized changes by retaining under the supervision of the classification division all patents hereafter granted. Owing to the lack of space it has been deemed advisable to detail only a small force up to the present time, but while awaiting the additional space that will be available when the General Land Office
removes from the Patent Office building I have authorized the Chief of the Classification Division to select one assistant examiner in each examining division to commence work on the classification of his own division, retaining his desk therein, but acting under the orders of the Chief of the Classification Division.
It is already patent that the work of the classification division will prove a great benefit to the office, increasing the accuracy and rapidity of searches, and that the public will experience corresponding benefits. It will also produce a corps of experts in classification who will become more familiar with all classes of the office than would be possible were their services confined to a single division, and those who operate in a single division will become more thoroughly acquainted with other classes than they would in working solely in making examinations. During the present fiscal year I expect to see great advances made in the work of classification. The Chief of the Classification Division deserves much credit for what has already been accomplished under his direction, especially in view of the limitations that have necessarily been placed upon him.
This one word expresses the crying need of this bureau. With adequate room whereby our records and stock can be made accessible and the clerical divisions suitably rearranged, our present force can accomplish much more work in a given time and fill all orders with business promptitude.
I earnestly beg that when the General Land Office vacates the Patent Office building you will assign rooms, so far as possible, sufficient for the needs of this bureau. In view of the fact that millions of dollars of property would be jeopardized by the destruction of our assignment records-many of the original assignments having been lost by their owners, who depend upon duly certified copies—and in view of the fact that many of our other records are largely of a nature that money could not replace, I believe a fireproof structure should be provided in which to store them. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, representing the leading manufacturing and engineering interests of the country, as well as other similar organizations, have forcefully urged the erection of such a building.
Some general legislation increasing the powers of the Commissioner of Patents, acting under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, would be beneficial. I refer among others to a readjustment of salaries and a reclassification of the clerical force; authority to dispose of models of expired patents; and the exchange or sale of books in the scientific library not necessary for the use of the office, coupled with authority to replace them with modern scientific works. In submitting my estimates for the next fiscal year these and other matters requiring legislation will be referred to more in detail.
The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
C. H. DUELL,