§ Mr. Forth
My Department is aware of this case, on which I have corresponded with the hon. Gentleman. As I understand the position, the problems of Atlanta Sports Industries Ltd. arose under copyright law, not patent law. The House will be aware that the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 has sought to remedy some of the weaknesses of the old law, but it cannot be retrospective. It is our intention that the detailed regulations will be in place by the summer.
§ Mr. Hardy
Does the Minister recognise that deficiencies in the law have caused serious and possibly increasing difficulties to that business and probably to others? After all our letters, does the Minister not recognise that a successful and enterprising business is being held back by the deficiencies of his Department, not least because the problem arose as a result of the company accepting the invitation of his Department to attend a particular trade fair?
§ Mr. Forth
I cannot accept that because a company has been helped by, in this case, the British Overseas Trade Board in attending a fair, the Government have any responsibility for transactions which may result from that. I believe that that is unreasonable. As the hon. Gentleman knows, most of the defects in the old law have been 325 remedied by the new law, but we cannot and should not make it retrospective. Much though I regret the circumstances in which the company finds itself, it is not a matter for Government and that must remain our position.