§ MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether it is correct that a patentee in this country has to pay a sum of £154 for 14 years' protection, whereas in the United States of America the cost is only £7 for 17 years' protection; and, if correct, will the Government, having regard to the keen competition between this country and the United States, take steps to put British inventors in a more favourable position?
§ MR. WATT
I beg also to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, having regard to the great disadvantage at which inventors are placed by the heavy fees payable on patents in Great Britain, as compared with America, Germany, France, and all other countries, the Government will re-consider the desirability of the foregoing fees payable-on patents for the fifth and sixth years?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD or TRADE(Sir M- HICKS BEACH, Bristol, W.)
The sums stated are accurate as regards the whole period of protection, but the position is not quite fairly represented, because protection is given for periods less than 14 years for sums less than the amount set out. Protection 125 for four years, for instance, is given in an ordinary case for £4, whereas the payments required to be made within the same period in the United States amount to £6 or £7. The whole scale of fees was carefully considered in 1883 when the Act was passed, and it was held that there are reasons, from the point of view both of the public and of inventors, against encouraging a lengthened protection of patents which are not likely to be worked. It did not appear desirable that a patentee who cannot make his patent available for public use should occupy the ground for a long time, to the exclusion of others.