HC Deb 13 September 1939 vol 351 cc742-4

Order for Second Reading read.

8.49 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Major Lloyd George)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

The Bill can be divided into two parts. Clauses 1 to 5 make provision for patented inventions, registered designs, copyright work and, in one special case, registered trade marks belonging to an enemy or enemy subject to be used or produced by non-enemies in this country under licence The second part extends the limits of time within which certain acts such as the payment of renewal fees have to be done where the doing of an act is prevented by the state of war, or would injure the person concerned or the public interest. I think it would be as well if I described what the separate Clauses do. Clause 1 continues in force the licences held by persons in the United Kingdom at the outbreak of war under enemy-owned patents, subject, of course, to compliance with Trading with the Enemy Act, 1939. Under Clause 1 the Comptroller has the power to revoke or to vary any such licence. Clause 2, which is probably the most important Clause in the Bill, gives the Comptroller the power to grant to persons who are not enemies or enemy subjects, licences to use patents, registered designs and so forth in force here and belonging to enemies or enemy subjects. Any royalties acruing as a result of any such action would, of course, not go to the enemy patentees, but would be dealt with under the rules applicable to other enemy property in this country.

The same treatment is not appropriate to enemy-owned trade marks, the use of which cannot be said to be necessary in the public interest, and if carried on by persons here might lead to confusion. There is, however, a special case where some action is called for, and that is where the enemy-owned trade mark is the only practicable description of the article or substance. It may be that persons here would wish to sell that particular article which is known only under its enemy-owned trade mark, and so in Clause 3 power is given to the Comptroller to suspend the enemy's rights in favour of any person who proposes to make or sell that article here, but only to the extent necessary to enable him to refer to that trade mark until he has established some other name or description of the article.

Clause 4 provides that new patents and registered designs may be granted on applications made by enemies, provided, of course, that the rights so created are subject to the enactments in force relating to enemy property. In other words, patents and registered designs may be granted on these applications, so that licences for their use by non-enemies in the United Kingdom may be granted in accordance with Clause 2. And similarly for trade marks and in Clause 5 for copyright. Clause 6 enables the Comptroller to extend the time laid down in the Patents and Designs Acts and the Trade Marks Acts for the doing of certain acts to which I referred in the beginning, where the doing of that Act either was prevented by the war or would have been contrary to the interests of the person concerned or to the public interest. That is to say that if a person is on active service or for other reasons occurring during the war was unable to fulfil his obligations under the Act, the Comptroller has the right to extend the time. The other Clauses, Clauses 7 to 11, deal with the necessary machinery of interpretation and the title of the Bill.

8.54 p.m.

Mr. Pet hick-Lawrence

Speaking broadly, I think I may say that we on these Benches have no objection to this Bill, but there are two or three questions which I should like to put to the Minister, whom I, in common with other Members of the House, would like to congratulate upon his new appointment. I am not quite clear how far enemy subjects are included as well as enemies. Some of his references were almost exclusively to enemies, but certain of them apply to enemy subjects as well. I am not quite clear about what happens under Clause 2. To what extent is the property of the enemy, or the enemy subject, that is taken away during the years of war resumes not only his rights at that time but is entitled to back payment in respect of the period during which he was deprived of his normal rights under the operation of the law? Perhaps, with the leave of the House, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will explain that point so that we may know where we stand. The second point is, how far is this Bill a re-enactment of the Act which was the law during the period from 1914 to 1918?

Mr. Kingsley Griffith

I have no doubt that this is a most necessary Bill. I rise only to express my pleasure at hearing my hon. and gallant Friend speaking from that Box and to wish him all success in his office.

Mr. Cocks

This is a Trade Marks Bill. I trust that the fact that it has been introduced by one who bears the name of the hon. and gallant Member will show to the enemy that the Government are stamped with the symbol and the hallmark of victory.

Major Lloyd George

I thank the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends for their expressions in regard to myself. In regard to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman, I think he will see that there is a definition of enemy and enemy subject in Clause 2 and in Clause 15 of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which will assist him in clearing up the matters which he raised. In regard to what will happen at the end of the war, I think it will be the same, broadly, as happened at the end of the last War. The House knows that the Trading with the Enemy Act requires that the property of an enemy will go to a custodian. The Bill runs on the same lines as the Act that we had in the last War.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow. — [Major Sir J. Edmondson.]

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.


Resolved, "That this House do now adjourn." — [Major Sir J. Edmondson.]

Adjourned accordingly at One Minute before Nine o'Clock.