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Mr. LEwis. You could clothe the whole population too. Mr. WEDDERBURN. Well, it would just put them back where they were at the beginning. Mr. LEwis. I do not see where the patent holder is in any special class or has any special rights. Mr. WEDDERBURN. No; I do not say that he would, but it is not only the patent, it is the manufacturers who had to stop manufacturin these devices during the war that were deprived of what they .# have made. Mr. LEWIS. That is right. Mr. WEDDERBURN. A. I think it only just to have them set back where they were at the beginning of the war. Mr. LEwis. I am . you are embarking upon a pretty broad field. Mr. WEDDERBURN. I suppose I am, but this is just a suggestion. I thought it would save a great many different bills. b Mr. LEwis. Thank you. Is there anything further on any of these ills? Does the Patent Office have anything to say on these bills? Mr. MURPHY. Not at the present, Mr. Chairman. Mr. LEwis. The committee will stand in adjournment. (Whereupon, at 12:50 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the chair.)
EXTENSION OF PATENTS
FRIDAY, MAY 14, 1947
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, SUBCOMMITTEE ON PATENTS, TRADE-MARKS, AND COPYRIGHTS,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Earl R. Lewis (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Messrs. Keating and Bryson.
The subcommittee is met to hear further testimony on H. R. 1984 from Mr. Lawson, who is here from East Rochester, N. Y. Mr. Keating has asked that Mr. Lawson be heard this morning.
Mr. Lawson, will you give your full name for the purpose of the record ?
STATEMENT OF HARRY B. LAWSON, EAST ROCHESTER, N. Y.
Mr. Lawson. Regarding these patents, I do not want to speak selfishly for myself. I am convinced that by extending these patents, it is going to save the life of many industries. There is no question about that.
For myself, I have 9 patents in the United States, with 88 claims allowed. Accompanying those are 5 Canadian patents, with 54 claims.
Those patents were issued approximately in 1931. They are now out, or nearly out. But going through the depression that we went through from 1929 and then into the war, we have not been able to use the material since 1938, I believe. In 1938, I believe, they took it away from us.
What we manufacture is mainly bronze and aluminum. Therefore, we have had practically no use of all of these nine patents.
I gathered by this law, when I saw it, that this really covers a condition parallel to this.
Mr. KEATING. This is supposed to cover the war period, is it not, and not the depression period?.
Mr. Lawson. As I gather from what I read in the law, it said by the war period or other causes. Mr. LEWIS. You say these patents will expire when?
Mr. LAwson. They will expire in 1948. And with that in mind we have had practically no use of them, coming through this period of depression followed by the war. And during the war, as I said, in 1938—I think it was in 1938—they began to pull the material away from us, which was critical nonferrous metals—bronze and aluminum. Everything that we make is of bronze and aluminum, and we have had no use of it. In fact, they are just beginning to release it now. We cannot have it yet; we cannot have it fast enough to start manufacturing right now. You see, by that we have practically no use of these patents. We have had no income from them. I have copies of them here. Mr. Chairman, you will find there are many imanuIacturers in a parallel condition with myself. I think this extension would be a lifesaver to many small industries. Mr. LEwis. Do you think that we ought to adopt that as a policy— extending patents? Mr. LAwsON. You see, this is very expensive dark shakes and screens for X-ray and operating rooms. It is for hospital equipment, mainly. It all has to be of nonferrous metals, like bronze and aluminum, and the like. And we have just been refueled. In fact, I had an inventory of 2,500 pounds, and the War Production Board nearly took that away from me. They even took our standing machinery and demanded that we sell that. We had to sell that during the war. So we have had no income from or use of our patents whatsoever. Mr. LEwis. Let me ask you. Do you think that it is a good policy, in general, for the Government to extend the life of patents? Mr. LAwsON. You mean under ordinary circumstances ! Mr. LEwis. Beyond 17 years. Mr. LAwson. I would not say so. Mr. LEwis. Do you think that a depression is sufficient reason for extending the life of a patent? Mr. LAwson. I will say in some cases, yes, where we are held up on this one through the lack of building of hospitals. And there are other cases parallel to this, on which a depression would have an effect. In other cases, I can see where there would be no ill effects from a depression. This equipment is very expensive, and it only goes, as I say, to hospitals. From now on, we are going to have a very large number of hospitals. In fact, the Government builds them, and States build them. And now we want to use this equipment, as the number of hospitals increases. Mr. KEATING. From 1938 on, do you consider that your curtailment in activity, or inability to go ahead, was caused by the war, or preparation for the war? Mr. LAwson. That is right, Congressman. That is true. You see, bronze and aluminum were the first metals that were limited or curtailed on the market. They are nonferrous metals, and they were the first that were withdrawn—especially bronze. Bronze was very critical during the war, and also aluminum. So we were closed up in 1940. I went with the United States Treasury. I did all the purchasing of materials for the United States Treasury for lend-lease in western New Jersey during the war, because we were down flat. In fact, I have all the special machinery, tools, and dies stored for our plant now. Mr. KEATING. You have never been able to get into production at a II : . - Mr. LAwson. No; that is true. Mr. KEATING. Do you have a company formed? Mr. Lawson. No; not any more. They were leased out. This is a purchase of the American Roll Screen Corp., which I purchased in Rochester, and these developments have come from that. But we would like now to do so, so that we can get these metals and start up a company. And if we can be assured of some protection Mr. BRYSON. How much more time do you have remaining on your original patents? Mr. LAwson. Most of these patents expire in 1948, on the 7th of May. They were issued—here is one that was issued in 1928, one on June 16, 1931, another on June 16, 1931, another on December 15, 1931, another December 27, 1932, and one on August 15, 1933. Then there is one here for March 31, 1936. Our Canadian patents are back in 1934 and 1935. You see, we have to have patents in the United States to have them in Canada, if I am correct on that. So these patents that I am urging here are the corresponding patents of five patents in Canada which we want to set up in this country with a ...Y to make the parts for Canada and ship them over there disassembled. Mr. BRYSON. Do they have about the same life period of patents in Canada? Mr. LAwson. Theirs is the same. They run parallel. Our patent in the United States is a corresponding patent of a patent in Canada. I mean, the Canadian patent is really a copy. If you would like to see one here, you will see that it is a copy of the United States patent. I have one here I will show you. #. is a Canadian patent. That one is 34722. 34722 is a corresponding patent to 2,035,828. This Mr. Nye was my partner. He and I have some of these patents together. Some of them are in his name, and some of them are in my name. But Mr. Nye is now dead, and I had to take over his interest. Some of them are held jointly in both of our names. Mr. KEATING. Fli-Bac Products Corp. has had an assignment of some of them? Mr. Lawson. They did. I bought out that company. They had an assignment at that time. r. KEATING. Have they ever manufactured them? Mr. LAwson. No. Mr. LEwis. Do you think that it is a good policy to extend all o There are doubtless many patents that are in the same conition as yours. Mr. LAwson. That is true. Mr. LEwis. Do you think that in a depression where you ought to have the use of your patents but because of the depression there is #. or no use. it will be a good policy of the Government to extend those :
Mr. Lawson. Yes; I would say so. I believe that there are varied conditions. But when anybody has a patept like that and can have no use of it through no fault of his own, it would seem that he should have an extension of it.
Mr. KEATING. Who do you think should be the one to determine whether such a condition has existed or not?
Mr. Lawson. I would say Congress.
Mr. KEATING. I mean, in each specific case. It is not feasible for Congress to pass on each case separately.
Mr. Lawson. That is true. Mr. KEATING. What administrative body should determine that, and what yardstick should be used in determining that?
Mr. Lawson. May I answer your question by asking one!
Isn't there a provision in the patent law that says that you can have a 5-year extension if you can produce proof that you have been at a loss on account of some condition? It seems to me that there is something in the patent law.
Mr. LEWIS. If there is, that would take care of you; would it not?
Mr. Bryson. Of course, it would be rather dangerous to have such a provision. But as our chairman indicates, manifestly Congress could not take up every individual case.
Mr. Lawson. That is true.
Mr. LEWIS. We have a number of cases like yours. There are a number of bills in to extend specific patents. But we have not been together as a committee to determine what the policy shall be on those.
Mr. KEATING. But in the past, it has uniformly been that they would not deal with specific private bills, you might say, of that kind.
Mr. LEWIS. That is right.
Mr. Lawson. I do not want to urge you to extend mine without extending somebody else's that is equally affected.
Mr. Lewis. I understand that. You want to be perfectly fair about it, of course.
Mr. Bryson. But we must be conscious that otherwise your patent rights and everybody else's never would be worth anything. Mr. LAWSON. That is true. May I explain?
Mr. Lewis. Yes. You may proceed. This is a very informal hearing.
Mr. Lawson. After you have produced a patent and are equipped, and you have it under production, a manufacturer does not worry too much about a patent if he is way ahead of another fellow.
Here are patents now that are out. Any manufacturer now can come in in a year from now and start right even with me on manufacturing these products, because they are going out. The 17 years are up. They are public property. He can start right even with me, and he has gone to no expense. That is one of the unfair parts.
Mr. Lewis. That is right.
Mr. Lawson. I have now about $60,000 worth of tools and dies for these, and I have had practically no use of them.
Mr. LEWIS. Were you unable to sell any of these products during the depression or during the war?