File No. 811.542/39

The German Ambassador to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: In compliance with instructions, I have the honor to lay before your excellency the following communication in the matter of bringing about transitory alleviation in the domain of patent, working design and trade-mark law in view of the difficulties interposed by the war in the exercise of the right of priority.

The intention manifested at one time by the Government of the United States to protect through an Act of Congress European applicants from injury to their applications in regard to the right of priority for one year guaranteed by the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property1 that might be caused by delays occurring during the war has not yet been carried into effect. The International Bureau for the Protection of Industrial Property has since called the attention of the States in the Union to the desirability of a general extension of the time limit; but the United States is not among the countries which have responded to the suggestion. Germany has issued the ordinances of May 7, 1915, and April 8, 1916 (Reichs-Gesetzblatt 1915, p. 272; 1916, p. 259), which extend the time limit until after the end of the war. The benefit thereof could not, however, be accorded to American citizens because German subjects do not enjoy the corresponding advantage in America.

American inventors are therefore greatly interested in having a change made in existing conditions.

That the extension of the Union time limit would prove the most effective measure for the removal of the injury caused to subjects of States of the Union by the state of war was expressly acknowledged by the Commissioner of Patents in his letter of September 11, 1914, to the Embassy.

I have the honor to beg your excellency kindly to inform me of the status of the case and most respectfully to suggest that the said time limit be extended to some date following the end of the war and with retroactive effect from August 1, 1914.

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I have the honor to remark in this connection that my Government is ready to issue, in accordance with Par. 1, Sec. 2, of the Ordinance of May 7, 1915, a notice for the benefit of American citizens as soon as a similar advantage is conceded to German subjects there by the Government of the United States.

Accept [etc.]

J. Bernstorff
  1. Malloy’s Treaties, p. 1935; For. Rel. 1887, p. 1067. This convention was twice revised (1900, 1911) and then replaced by the Convention of June 2, 1911, printed in For. Rel. 1913, p. 1363.