A patent caveat was a
legal documentfiled with the United States Patent Office. [Patent Act of 1836] Caveats were discontinued in 1909. A caveat was like a patent applicationwith a description of an inventionand drawings, but without claims. It was an official notice of intention to file a patent application at a later date. A caveat expired after one year, but was renewable by paying an annual renewal fee. The filing fee for a caveat was much less costly than the filing fee for a patent application and did not entail an additional lawyer's fee for drafting claims. Caveats were similar to provisional patent applications used today in the United States Patent and Trademark Office which also expire after one year.
According to the "Guide to the Practice of the Patent Office" 1853, [ quoted in "The Telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876" by A. E. Evenson, page 66] the primary objective of a caveat was to prevent the issuing of a rival patent for the same invention to a subsequent inventor. Before the issuing of a patent, the caveats filed within the preceding year were searched. If one was found for the same invention as the proposed patent, the Patent Office notified the holder of the caveat, who then had three months to submit a formal patent application with claims. If the two patent applications claimed the same invention, an interference would then be declared and neither patent could be issued until it was determined which was the
first to invent.
United States Defensive Publication
United States Statutory Invention Registration
* [http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bl_Antonio_Meucci.htm article on Antonio Meucci's telephone caveat]
* [http://z.about.com/d/inventors/1/7/r/X/graypatent.gifElisha Gray's telephone caveat drawing]
* [http://ipmall.info/hosted_resources/lipa/patents/Patent_Act_of_1836.pdf Patent Act of 1836, SEC. 12]
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