HL Deb 17 March 1851 vol 115 cc1-3

, in bringing up the report on this Bill, said, it might be convenient that he should take that opportunity of stating the intentions of the Government with regard to the law of patents. It was a question which had been much discussed of late, and by all parties it was admitted that the state of the law was anomalous; and the Government had considered the subject with a view of remedying the inconveniences which at present existed. All parties were unanimous as to the defects of the present law, but there was great diversity of opinion as to the remedy to be applied. Some persons thought that every inventor possessed a natural right to the enjoyment of that which was his own invention, and that, with the greatest facility and without previous examination, the benefit of his invention should be secured to him; whilst other persons went so far as to think that it was very doubtful whether inventors should obtain even the protection and privileges which they enjoyed, and that the existence of patents was no more than an acknowledgment by the law of monopolies. The Government wished to meet the views so often expressed by noble Lords on both sides of the House with reference to the introduction of measures into their Lordships' House where it was practicable, instead of their coming up late in the Session; and it was, therefore, their intention to introduce a Bill on the subject of the patent laws in that House before the end of next week. The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Brougham) also, he believed, intended to introduce a Bill on the subject; and, as it would not be desirable to have the two Bills before the House at the same time, perhaps their Lordships would allow him (Earl Granville) to have his Bill read a second time, in order that it might be referred to a Select Committee to have evidence taken on the subject upon which a Bill of this sort ought to be founded. The noble and learned Lord would be able to attend the Committee, and, no doubt, would render his valuable assistance in improving the details of the measure.


was quite ready to acquiesce in the proposition of the noble Earl. He intended to have laid his Bill on the table on Thursday next, but he would now wait until the Bill of the Government was before the House. The noble and learned Lord stated some of the features of his Bill, the principal of which were, to make one patent apply to England, Ireland, and Scotland; and, in lieu of the amount now paid in the first instance, to reduce it considerably, and distribute it over a series of years, upon a graduated scale, first embracing a period of three, then of four years, and so on to the entire term of fourteen years, if the patentee should desire it. If the Government Bill did not embrace these objects, he would introduce his Bill, so that both Bills might be referred to the same Committee. It was a subject of great interest, and the announcement of the noble Earl would be received with great satisfaction by the public. He was glad that the Government had taken up the subject; and he should also be glad if they would take up the Bills which he had introduced with reference to the extension of the County Courts and the law of evidence, if they met their approval, so as to prevent such attempts at legislation proving abortive. He was greatly obliged to them for the intention of introducing the Bill of which the noble Earl had given notice in their Lordships' House; and he wished they had adopted a similar course with reference to the proposed Chancery Reform Bill, which could most properly have been brought into their Lordships' House, seeing that it might affect their Lordships' appellate jurisdiction.

Amendment reported (according to Order); and Bill to be read 3a To-morrow.

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