HC Deb 16 April 1888 vol 324 cc1326-7
MR. P. STANHOPE (Wednesbury)

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he is aware that the Inland Revenue Authorities have recently instructed the officials of the Patent Office to refuse registration of agreements affecting new patents bearing a 6d. stamp, which has hitherto been the invariable custom; whether he is aware that this action of the Inland Revenue Authorities, which is presumably with the object of compelling the registration of formal assignments bearing a heavy ad valorem stamp instead of the more economical process previously adopted, will, by restricting the facilities for testing new inventions, inflict the most grievous hardship upon the poorer class of inventors, and act as a serious barrier to the inventive genius of the country; and, whether he will state by what authority the Inland Revenue Depart- ment has given these instructions, and whether he will cause the same to be rescinded?


Some misapprehension has existed as to the proper Stamp Duty chargeable upon instruments which are in form agreements affecting patents, but which operate as equitable assignments of the patents. If the instruments were merely chargeable as agreements, the duty on them would be 6d. only; but in cases where they operate as assignments they are chargeable with ad valorem duty as assignments on sale of mortgage, or with a duty of 10s. as assignments otherwise, as the case may be. In consequence of an erroneous opinion, many instruments which were chargeable as assignments have been registered at the Patent Office when bearing the duty of 6d. only; and when the Inland Revenue Authorities became aware of this, they drew the attention of the officials of the Patent Office to the matter, and to their duty under the Stamp Act. The ad valorem duty of 10s. per cent upon the consideration for the assignment on sale, or of 2s. 6d. per cent upon the mortgage money in the case of mortgage, is not, I think, such as to operate in such a manner as the hon. Member appears to forbode. But, however that may be, the Inland Revenue Department have only been executing the law as it now stands in the action they have taken, and have acted under the statutory authority vested in the Board.