HL Deb 12 February 1861 vol 161 c328

laid on the table a Bill which he said was of the highest importance to the manufacturers of this country, inasmuch as it would afford to them a protection they had long desired —protection not from fair competition but from fraud. Its chief object was to remedy the grievances under which they suffered from the forging of trade marks. As their Lordships were aware all great manufacturers had a particular mark to denote their manufactures, which was known at home and abroad, and which was a guarantee of the genuineness and excellence of the article. It had of late years become extremely common to forge the mark of a successful, eminent, and celebrated manufacturer, thus not only depriving him of the profits to which he was justly entitled, but bringing disgrace on him in addition; because the articles thus imposed on the public with false marks were generally of an inferior quality and of a fraudulent nature. In most other countries the forging of such marks was a crime punishable by law, but with us the only remedy was to apply to the Court of Chancery for an injunction and to bring an action at law for damages. This had been found to be a dilatory, expensive, and uncertain remedy. The noble and learned Lord on the bench near him (Lord Chelmsford) would remember that one of the last cases on which he was engaged at the close of his brilliant career at the bar was an action brought by Farina, of Cologne, against some person who had forged his mark on Eau de Cologne. There was a long litigation, both in the Court of Chancery and in the Queen's Bench, and a very imperfect remedy was obtained by the person who had been wronged. It was proposed by this Bill that the forging of these marks, or the sale of articles bearing forged marks, with the intent to defraud, should he made a misdemeanour, punishable by fine and imprisonment. This it was to be honed would provide an effectual remedy. Another benefit would be conferred on manufacturers in this way. Our countrymen suffered very much by these practices in foreign countries, and when they complained the answer they received was, "You do nothing to protect us in your country. There must be reciprocity. If you would give us a remedy we would most willingly listen to your complaint." When this Bill became law that reproach would cease, and our manufacturers, it was to be hoped, would have justice done to them in all parts of the world. There was also a fraudulent practice of using marks to denote the quantity and quality of goods which were utterly false; for instance, a mark would be put on a piece of textile fabric to denote that it was of a certain length, when it was, in fact, much shorter, or of a certain material when it was made of much inferior materials. He proposed to make a fraud of this sort a misdemeanour, punishable in the same way. It had also, of late, become an exceedingly common practice, in the sale of works of art, to put on them the name, mark, or monogram of some particular artist, so as to deceive even connoisseurs. Under this Bill, if the name or monogram of any particular artist were fraudulently attached to any work of art, so as to deceive persons reasonably skilled in such articles, that would be a misdemeanour, punishable by fine and imprisonment.

The noble and learned Lord then presented a Bill to amend the Law relating to the fraudulent Marking of Merchandise.