William Wilder Townsend’s letter was mailed on February 1, 1908 to Joseph Fourestier Simpson, care of his attorney, Charles Rutter. One can only imagine the frustration that Simpson felt after receiving the letter. All of the claims had been rejected, and it was clear from the patents cited that Townsend, though brilliant in his own fields, truly did not understand the invention in front of him.
Simpson took a deep breath. By February 12, 1908 he had formulated a response, which he mailed back to the Patent Office. He first stated that he was replacing claims 1, 2, 4, and 5 with new claims. However, he refused to replace claim 3, which had to do with the obstruction that launched the ball into the air. He would have more to say later in the letter about the obstruction. The new claims were as follows:
1. In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a projectile is adapted to travel, an elevated target to the read of said board, and an obstruction upon said board, in from of said target, adapted to cause said ball to leave said board and continue its flight towards said target in the air.
2. In a game apparatus, in combination, a board along which a projectile is adapted to travel, a perforated target to the read and above of said board, and an obstruction upon said board, in front of said target, adapted to cause said ball to leave said board and continue its flight towards said target in the air.
4. 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 said target, adapted to traject said ball, said target, and an indicator for showing the part of said target engaged by said ball.
5. 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 apertures placed to the read of said obstruction, pivoted levers arranged in said apertures adapted to be engaged and depressed by the projectile after passing through said apertures, and an indicating device adapted to be operated by the moment of said levers.
He then went on to say:
“The claims have been amended for the sake of clearness and it is thought that they do not conflict with the references of record none of which contemplate trajecting the ball, that is causing it to continue its flight from the obstruction to the target through the air.”
And he finished the letter, noting:
“None of the references so far cited have shown a game in which a ball is engaged by an obstruction causing it to rise in and fly through the air towards a target, hence the applicant beleives [sic] that he is entitled to claims covering a game in which the ball passes from the player to a target first along a board and finally through the air. The precise details of applicants game as illustrated and described would be of no value without the main feature upon which, he believes, he is entitled to protection.”
Perhaps this time Townsend would understand that the ball flying through the air to the target was the significant part of the invention. But perhaps not.