The king having signed it, it is called the "King's-bill," and is next taken to the Signet-office, which, having passed, it is denominated the "Signet-bill." Hence it is conducted into the Privy Seal-office, where, having received the privy seal, it is baptized the "Privy Seal-bill," and is conducted to the Great Seal-office to receive the great seal, or finishing stroke. Formerly it had a more tortuous course of manufacture, having to go through a process at the Hanaper-office; but although this one of the many absurdities has been got rid of, the hanaper fees are still extorted, being made payable at the Great Seal-office before the patent can be obtained. We should here notice, that caveats are sometimes entered at the Great Seal-office; but opposition made by virtue of them, to the sealing of a patent, is made so expensive to the caveatee as to be now but rarely acted upon.
In the letters patent which are granted for new inventions, the improvements or inventions are first stated; the prayer of the petitioner to have the exclusive benefit for himself, or his assigns, for fourteen years, is next given, and this prayer is declared to be complied with, according to the statute. After commanding all subjects not to interfere with the patent right, and issuing a mandate to all officers not to molest the patentee in the exercise of it, the letters patent declare the patent void if it appear that the grant is contrary to law, or prejudicial to the subject; or if the thing invented have been in use before the date of the grant, or if the patentee be not the inventor, or if it interfere with prior letters patent, or if the patent be transferred to more than twelve persons (lately increased from five to twelve), or to any who act as a corporate body; or, finally, if the nature of the invention be not described, or the description or specification be not enrolled within two calendar months after the date of the letters patent.
The letters patent conclude with a declaration, that they shall be construed in the most beneficial sense for the patentee.
It will be observed, that the period allowed for the enrolment of the specification, is but two months for an English patent only; but if the patentee declares in his affidavit that it his intention to solicit patents for Scotland and Ireland also, then he is allowed six months to prepare his specification; and if he declares for only one of these countries in addition to England, four months are allowed. These periods are, however, sometimes extended upon a special affidavit, and a petition to the Attorney General, setting forth the necessity of the extension. As an instance, we had occasion to solicit a patent for a gentleman, who discovered that the kernel of the palm-nuts, previously thrown away as valueless, contained more valuable oleaginous matter than the outer rind, from which the oil was usually extracted; and although the process for obtaining the oil could be specified by the operations that had been made upon a small quantity, still it was of importance that the public should be informed, through the medium of the specification, of the best mode of procedure on the large scale, to determine which, it was necessary to procure a supply from South America; on this plea, we procured twelve months to specify.
However long a period a patentee may have to specify, he rarely finds it too much; very frequently, indeed, he is unprepared to supply all the details in a satisfactory manner to himself when he is required to complete his specification. For these reasons, we always recommend our clients to express in their affidavits that it is their intention to take out patents for the three kingdoms, if they have the remotest intention of so doing, as they thereby obtain six months to specify, which is a positive advantage. The expression of an intention is not considered as obligatory to do otherwise than just as the interest of the party may afterwards dictate; and when a patentee declines taking advantage of the longer term to specify, he exposes himself to the liability of being robbed of his invention by a rival; thus, - suppose A to have obtained in June a patent for improvements in the steam engine, and to have six months to specify. B invents other improvements in the steam engine, which he patents in July, and has only two mouths to specify; B.'s specification is enrolled in September; then A goes to the office and reads it, obtains, if he pleases to pay for it, an office-copy, takes it home with him, and inserts, at his leisure, the whole, or as much of it as he pleases, in his specification that is due in December; now as A has a prior claim by the date of his patent, B is irremediably robbed of his invention and his patent right too.
In obtaining a patent for Scotland, the first proceedings are the same as for England, but the petition is referred to the Lord Advocate, upon whose report the king issues his warrant, and the remaining business is executed in Scotland without requiring the king's signature to the bill. Four months is the time allowed to specify a Scotch patent. The patent is written in the Latin language.
In soliciting an Irish patent, the affidavit and petition is sent with a reference from the King to the Lord Lieutenant at Dublin; but as his lordship knows nothing of such matters except the fees they conduct into his pocket, he refers the never-discussed point of the propriety of granting the patent, to the grave consideration of the Irish Attorney and Solicitor General, both of whom sign their names to a lithographed report, for doing which they pocket an enormous fee. The subsequent proceedings are nearly similar to those of an English patent, excepting that they are much longer in completion.
The time required for completing an English patent under the most favourable circumstances, that is without opposition, is three weeks; but by the payment of additional or "expedition " fees, it may be done in a fortnight by an active agent A Scotch patent takes also about three weeks; but an Irish patent takes full six weeks. Before the period when Mr. Stanley came into office, as Secretary for Ireland, it was difficult to get an Irish patent completed in six months!