Simpson’s patent application had had six of the seven claims rejected, and R. H. Hyatt, the patent examiner, asked Simpson to more clearly describe the invention. Hyatt had absolutely no clue as to how revolutionary, original and compelling these features would be, especially the skee-jump and the elevated target. One can only imagine the frustration that Simpson would feel when that letter landed back on his desk.
And it landed on his desk a few days after it was mailed from Washington, DC. Simpson had been through this frustrating process for his ratchet wrench, so he was no stranger to it. Simpson took the next several weeks to redraft his application based on the feedback that he had received from the Patent Office. He methodically addressed each of the criticisms, changing the name of the application, fixing duplicated figure numbering, and providing a more detailed description of the invention and how it worked. He then addressed the issues of the claims by completely rewriting them and asking for his new version to be used. This time instead of seven claims he had only five:
- In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a projectile is adapted to travel, an elevated target at the rear of said board, and an obstruction upon said board, in front of said target adapted to engage and elevate said projectile in its flight
- In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a projectile is adapted to travel, a perforated target at the rear of and at the rear of and above said board, and an obstruction upon said board, in front of said target.
- In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a ball is adapted to be rolled, a target at the rear of said board, an obstruction upon said board in front of said target adapted to traject said ball, and an inclined base or floor for returning said ball to the player.
- In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a ball is adapted to be rolled, an obstruction upon said board in front of a target, said target, and an indicator for showing the part of said target engaged by said ball.
- In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a projectile is adapted to be rolled, an obstruction for trajecting said projectile, a target having perforations in the line of the projectory of said projectile, pivoted levers arranged in said perforations adapted to be engaged and depressed by the projectile after passing through said perforations, and an indicating device adapted to be operated by the movement of said levers.
Finally he addressed Hyatt’s list of patents that were used to reject the previous claims attempting to demonstrate that Hyatt misunderstood the invention. He then finished the letter by stating:
“None of these references show the construction claimed by me and therefore favorable action upon my claims is asked.”
He mailed the letter and assumed that this time the Patent Office would better understand his position and things would move along towards the logical conclusion of the patent being granted.
Simpson could not have been more wrong.