HC Deb 08 August 1919 vol 119 cc769-71

For Section twenty-seven of the Patents and Designs Act, l907 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), the following Section shall be substituted:

"27.—(1) Any person interested may at any time apply to the comptroller alleging in the case of any patent that there has been an abuse of the monopoly rights there under and asking for relief under this Section.

(2) The monopoly rights under a patent shall be deemed to have been abused in any of the following circumstances: (e) If any trade or industry in the United Kingdom, or any person or class of persons engaged therein, is unfairly prejudiced by the conditions attached by the patentee,-whether before or after the passing of this Act, to the purchase, hire, or use of the patented article, or to the using or working of the patented process: Provided that for the purpose of determining whether there has been any abuse of the mono poly rights under a patent, it shall be taken that patents for new inventions are granted not only to encourage invention but to secure that new inventions shall so far as possible be worked on a commercial scale in the United Kingdom with out undue delay.

(3) On being satisfied that a case of abuse of the monopoly rights under a patent has been established, the comptroller may exercise any of the following powers as he may deem expedient in the circumstances. (e) If the comptroller is of opinion that the objects of this Section will be best attained by making no order, he may refuse the application and dispose of any question as to costs thereon as he thinks just.


I beg to move, in Sub section (1), after the word "comptroller," to insert the words "or to the High Court of Justice as hereinafter provided."

I think it will be agreed that this is a reasonable Amendment. The object is two-fold. It is to give an alternative and also to save unnecessary expense. In the Bill already there is provided an appeal to the High Court from the decision of the Comptroller, but in the case of a man or firm who could not be described as wealthy it as extremely hard that he should be confined only to a certain line of procedure in appealing. The Comptroller may be a Solomon in judgment, but there might be appeals from the judgment of Solomon, and the expense involved to such a firm in a. matter of this kind ought to be avoided. We attach great importance to this, because we think that the man or the firm should have the right of choice to go either to the Comptroller or the High Court.


I beg to second the Amendment.

What is suggested is that alternative methods should be provided for aggrieved persons to have their grievance deter mined. I hope that the Solicitor-General will accept the Amendment. It harmonises with one of his own Amendments later on. It simply means providing more direct and more economic methods for those concerned. The House will recognise the advantage for those connected with industry having placed at their disposal the most simple and direct methods of deter mining points of difficulty arising in connection with these matters which unfairly handicap neither side, and give facilities for the settlement of all difficulties arising between the parties.


I am sorry that I cannot accept this Amendment, but I think that on examination both my hon. Friends will see that it is really impossible. It alters the whole structure or system of our patent law. We have at present a Comptroller who is a very responsible person appointed with high legal attainments and qualifications as a person qualified to exercise the very important duties entrusted to him, and from him there is an appeal to the High Court. If all applications were to go straight to the Court it would be resented by the High Court, and it would be doing a great disservice to the large number of persons who wish to bring their applications in matters of patents before a tribunal, if you were to increase the cost to which they would be subjected, and it would make it a much more serious matter for them to make any application at all. The present system has worked well and should not be altered.


I think that my hon. Friends do not quite appreciate that the present is the very easiest, simplest, and most expeditious manner of having these matters inquired into. Further than that, if they go to the High Court direct they take away the possibility of appeal which exists at present in the case of decisions by the Comptroller.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.