HC Deb 27 July 1899 vol 75 cc495-6
MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if Her Majesty's Government have received information that the Transvaal Government have created further trading or commercial monopolies within the Republic; whether the South African Republic, on 14th December, 1898, sold to Messrs. Tranmer and Company the exclusive right to manufacture carbide of calcium, without reference to the ownership of the patent previously registered within their territory by British subjects; is the grant of such a monopoly, without regard to patent rights, authorised by the London Convention; was the Transvaal Government aware that the French patent for the manufacture of carbide, acquired at considerable cost and duly registered in the Republic, was owned by Messrs. Read, Holliday, and Sons, Limited, of Huddersfield, at the time when a monopoly was granted to Tranmer and Company, who possess no patent; is the effect of such a monopoly that patentees or their assignees cannot work their patent without the licence from the monopolist, although the latter has no patent; and can the monopolist manufacture without acquiring the patent registered in the Republic; if so, why does the Transvaal Government maintain a patent office and accept fees for registering patents when they will not allow them to be worked, owing to the exclusive right to manufacture having been sold to persons who have no ownership in the process.


During the last three years the Transvaal Govern- ment have granted a number of concessions for the manufacture under favour-conditions, such as protective duties, of articles for which a demand exists in the country. Amongst these is the concession to Tranmer and Company for the manufacture of calcium carbide, to which the hon. Member refers. It does not appear, however, that an exclusive right has been granted to Tranmer and Company, and I apprehend, therefore, that the holders of a patent in the Transvaal for the manufacture of calcium carbide continue to have a perfect right to exercise their patent rights without interference from the concessionaire. Whether the latter could legally manufacture calcium carbide without acquiring the patent is a technical question as to the process of manufacture which, I am afraid, I am not able to answer. If, however, exclusive rights have been granted to the concessionaire, as to which I shall make inquiry, the situation is different. The concession would apparently be open to the objections urged against the dynamite concession in my despatch of the 13th of January, which was published in Blue Book c. 9317, and would be a breach of Art. XIV. of the London Convention, even in the absence of any previously acquired patent rights.

MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us who Tranmer and Company are, and whether they are British subjects?


I cannot say as a matter of fact. I have heard they are German subjects.