HC Deb 07 February 1842 vol 60 cc128-31
Mr. Emerson Tennent

moved that the House do resolve itself into a committee of the whole House to take into consideration the laws affecting the Copyright of Designs for the ornament of articles of manufacture.

On the motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair.

Mr. W. Williams

said, that having in the last Parliament opposed any alteration of the present law on this subject, he could not allow the bill to pass through its first stage without stating that he entertained as strong, if not stronger, objections to the proposed change in the law as he did when the question was formerly mooted. He believed if the hon. Mover had been throughly acquainted with the nature of the trade to which his bill referred, he would not have contemplated any alteration in the present law. Some of the leading persons connected with that trade had been Members of this House, but for a period of forty years no change had been made in the regulations affecting it. It was a remarkable circumstance that during the recent depression of almost every branch of trade in the country, this branch had been almost the only one in which the amount of trade during the past year had exceeded that of any preceding year, and yet the hon. Gentleman brought forward a proposition which struck at the very root of that trade. He was convinced that the result of' the measure proposed by the bon. Gentleman—if it was carried out on the same principles on which his bill of last Session was founded—would be entirely to ruin this branch of manufacture as regarded the foreign trade.

House in Committee.

Mr. Emerson Tennent

said, that the bill he now proposed was nearly similar to that which he submitted to the House during the last Session. He had, however, introduced one alteration. By the present measure he proposed to extend the right of copyright for a period of nine months, instead of twelve months —the term he formerly contemplated. The hon. Member observed, that as the discussion would be taken in a subsequent stage of the bill, he would now simply move that the chairman be instructed to move for leave to bring in a bill to amend the laws relating to the copyright of designs for the ornament of articles of manufacture.

An hon. Member

asked whether any change had been made in those provisions of the bill which affected the registration of designs, with a view to protect manufacturers residing in distant parts of the country from those difficulties which would have attended the operation of the measure proposed last Session by the hon. Member for Belfast? If He rightly understood the former bill, there was to be only one office for registration in the United Kingdom. Those manufacturers, therefore, who resided near the office, would have the opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the patterns registered, an advantage which distant manufacturers could not possess without great difficulty and expense.

Dr. Bowring

said, there were great imperfections in the legislation of this country for the protection of patterns in design. If that protection were desirable for the interest of manufactures and of commerce, the means of establishing the copyright should be easy, and of obtaining redress economical in cases of invasion. But there was no such machinery in this country for providing such facilities. One central office of registration was incompetent; it was inaccessible to the greatest portion of those who wanted its aid—and then if a pattern were printed, there was no redress but at an expense not worth the sacrifice. In France the prud'hommes, which existed in all the great manufacturing districts, had undertaken the business of registration, which they could accomplish at an exceedingly small cost, so that the groundwork of protection was there easily provided. In France, also, they had a great advantage, which was not possessed in this country, in being able to give effect to their legislation by a simple and appropriate tribunal, for the same body which recorded the primary claims of the inventor, ministered justice when the pattern was invaded, and the right of the manufacturer attacked. In this country the cost of obtaining redress was so great, that in ninety-nine cases out of 100, it was unavailable; for, where the property was small, the means of redress, to be beneficial, ought to be economical. There appeared to him, then, to be great difficulties in considering this question—first, in providing a means of general registration, which should be accessible to all who needed it; and, secondly, in providing an economical and prompt means of redress, in cases where an invention was invaded, it proved that none of our existing institutions were competent to effect the object desired—and there might be some doubt if the object itself was worthy of legislation.

Mr. M. Philips

said, he had felt it his duty on a former occasion to offer an uncompromising opposition to the measure proposed by the hon. Member for Belfast; and time and reflection had convinced him of the policy of the course which he then pursued. He would not oppose the introduction of the present bill, because an opportunity would be afforded of dicussing it on the second reading. He was, however, most anxious that the subject should be fairly and fully brought before the House.

Mr. Tennent

was understood to say, that he did not conceive any inconvenience would arise from there being but one re- gistrar of designs for the United Kingdom, and that he did not think any alteration in the bill in that respect was necessary. By the present bill, he proposed that in case of the invasion of a copyright of design, a remedy should be afforded by proceedings before two magistrates, which would render the expense comparatively trifling.

Resolution agreed to.

The House resumed-Resolution reported.

Bill ordered to be brought in, and it was accordingly brought in and read a first time.

House adjourned.