§ LORD COLCHESTER
moved the Second Reading of the Patent Law Amendment Bill. The object of the Bill was to diminish the expense and difficulty experienced at present in obtaining patents, and to make more certain to patentees the rights to which their inventions entitled them. Two Bills had been introduced last Session having a similar object in view, one by the late Government, and one by the noble and learned Lord opposite. These two Bills had been referred to a Select Committee, where they underwent considerable discussion. On them was founded a third Bill, which, after much discussion in the House of Commons, was sent back to their Lordships' House at so late a period in the Session, and with so many amendments, that the whole thing fell to the ground. Her Majesty's present Government, upon their accession to office, found a Bill prepared, which they had with some alteration adopted. Formerly, when application was made for a patent, the patentee was put to the expense of 100l. The expense for the first three years would now be reduced to 20l. in fees, and 5l. for stamp duty. The patent might, then, be renewed for a further period, by an additional outlay of money. The Commissioners appointed under the Act were, the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, the Attorney General for England, Her Majesty's Solicitor General, the Lord Advocate, Her Majesty's Solicitor General for Scotland, Her Majesty's Attorney and Solicitor General for Ireland for the time being, and one or more other persons whom Her Majesty might appoint during Her pleasure, the powers of the Commissioners being vested in any three. The third clause empowered the Commissioners to appoint Examiners of all specifications where applications were made for patents. The seventh clause re- 1298 quired that every application for letters patent, made under the Act, should be referred by the Commissioners to one of the law officers of the Crown. It was also required that the provisional specification should be referred by the law officers to the Examiners, who were to be satisfied that it described generally the nature of the invention, whereupon they would give a certificate, which protected for the space of six months the invention, without prejudice to any letters patent to be granted for the same invention at a future date; the inventor might, however, at his option, deposit, in lieu of a provisional, a complete specification, and such deposit would confer upon him, for the period of six months, the same rights as letters patent would confer. Letters patent granted to a first inventor were not to be invalidated by protection thus obtained. And where it was desired that they should extend over the whole of the kingdom and the colonies, they were to be sued out under the Great Seal. The 28th Clause provided that the Commissioners should furnish true copies of all specifications, to be open to public inspection. Registers were also to be kept of all patents granted, and of proprietors of patents, open to public inspection. There were other clauses; but he would shortly say that the Bill conferred many advantages, in his opinion, upon patentees, which they did not before possess. Persons who had registered inventions under the Act of 1851, would not be called upon to furnish fresh specifications. There was one point of difference between the Bill intended to be introduced by the late Government and that now before the House. There was a clause in the former Bill dealing with the fact of a foreign ship using machinery which was patented. When a vessel of that description came into our harbours, she was subject to an action. Her Majesty's Government thought it advisable that this point should be dealt with in a separate Bill. Having thus stated the nature and objects of the Bill now before the House, and having expressed his opinion that it would be a vast improvement on the present law, he trusted that the House would agree to the Motion that the Bill be read a second time.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
, considered that the present Bill was a great improvement on the existing system. There was, however, one point he wished to suggest to the noble Lord. He had stated 1299 that there was another Bill under consideration which did not materially differ from the present. Ought they not both to be referred to the same Select Committee, and made harmonious? Such a step would save a great deal of time. It might happen, however, through the questions then pending before the House, that a dissolution of Parliament might occur before this Bill had received the sanction of the Legislature. Such an event would occasion much inconvenience, as the temporary patent law which had been passed would expire on the 22nd of April next. Would it not, then, be desirable to pass a short enactment, further extending the protection which had been already awarded?
§ LORD COLCHESTER
said, that he had no objection to refer both Bills to a Select Committee; and as to the other suggestion, the matter had not been lost sight of by the Government.
said, that he would undertake to show the noble Lord that the Bill, instead of diminishing expense and being an improvement upon the present state of the law, would, on the contrary, increase the expense of obtaining a patent, would increase the delay, and greatly increase public dissatisfaction. His objections were too technical for discussion with the noble Lord; but he would undertake to prove his positions if he would refer it to the consideration of the law officers of the Crown, with whom he (Lord Truro) would confer upon the point.
§ Bill read 2a, and referred to a Select Committee.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.