This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In your September number, under the head of "Plant Patents," you strongly commend the good sense of Mr. D. B. Wier, of Lacon, I11., in that " instead of writing long articles on what might be done," he has proceeded to procure trademarks or copyrights on the names adopted by him to indicate certain seedling varieties of cherries. As I am one of the persons who have written several long articles on what might be done, I have taken pains to ascertain what Mr. Wier has not done.
Mr. Wier sets out, in a sort of patent medicine pamphlet issued by him, that he has made a "new departure;" that he has, under the copyright laws of the United States, secured an exclusive property in the names, numbers, and descriptions adopted by him in connection with the cherries referred to; and amidst a flourish of trumpets and peculiar use of rhetoric, which of themselves cast a strong suspicion on his good faith, he offers to receive bids for territorial assignments of his "rights".
The copyright laws of the United States are all embodied in two or three statutes, in which their scope is closely defined. If you will refer to them, you will see that there is no provision in them under which Mr. Wier could have possibly secured the rights he claims. He could have copyrighted his pamphlet, but, as you and every editor who has occasion to quote from copyrighted books understands, a copyright of a book or pamphlet is not infringed until such copious extracts from it are embodied in a new book or pamphlet published that the public are, by reason of the extracts, led to buy the new book or pamphlet, or led to believe that the latter are identical with the original.
However, in order that I might not be mistaken as to Mr. Wier's exact position, I cut from his pamphlet a paragraph, in which his claims are formally set forth, and enclosed it to the Librarian of Congress, who is by law charged with registering all copyrights "save for labels to be placed on articles of manufacture." I asked him to point out to me under what provisions of the copyright laws, if any, Mr. Wier could secure such rights. He replied, under date of September 8th, by saying, "Mr. D. B. Wier has made no entry of copyright in this office".
As Mr. Wier remarks, on page 11 of his pamphlet, " they (the horticulturists of the West) know I was always 'up to tricks,'" I commend him to the tender mercies of yourself and the public.