HC Deb 07 May 1896 vol 40 cc730-1

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade—(1) whether it has been brought to his notice that Lord Justice Kay, in giving a decision in the Court of Appeal on the 20th April, said that recent patent cases in that Court had forced on his mind the conviction that it was desirable there should be some functionary holding in relation to patents a position analogous to that of the Comptroller in relation to trade marks, an official whose duty it would be to look into prior specifications and reject applications for patents in cases in which no new invention was involved; and further stated that, from there being no such functionary, there were frequently long and expensive contests about alleged inventions which no human being who was acquainted with the state of knowledge on the subject would think deserving of a patent; (2) whether in the United States and other countries such functionaries exist; (3) and whether he will consider the propriety of giving effect to Lord Justice Kay's suggestions for the amendment of the practice in this country?


The reply to the first two paragraphs is in the affirmative; as to the third, I am not prepared to propose the alteration of the existing practice. The subject is a thorny one and has engaged the attention of Parliament and of the public on and off for many years. Twenty-five thousand and fifty-three patents were applied for in 1895, and an enormous staff would be required if the obligation of deciding on the novelty of each application was imposed on the Patent Office. I must further remind the hon. Member that the most eminent authorities differ occasionally as to whether an invention is new.