§ LORD REDESDALE,
referring to Shepard's, Wright's, and Spencer's Patent Bills, said, he did not propose to move their second reading. Their object was to remedy the neglect of the patentees in not having paid the stamp duties within the period required by law. He did not think a discretionary power to remedy such defaults would be of advantage, as most probably the dishonest man who made a spurious statement would obtain a renewal of his patent, whereas the honest man who spoke the truth might suffer. It would be better in cases of default of payment within the specified time, for the patentee to pay double duty when a week behind time, and treble, when a fortnight behind. He left the matter in their Lordships' hands, and unless otherwise advised, he should not move the second reading.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
thought their Lordships were much indebted to the noble Lord for drawing attention to the principle involved in these Bills, which might otherwise have passed as a matter of course. He did not wish to act harshly towards patentees, but, at the same time, the law upon the subject ought not to be forgotten. Previous to the Act of 1852, an inventor could not patent his invention except at a heavy expense; but by that Act very easy terms were given to patentees who, if their inventions were of any value, ought after the lapse of three or seven years, to be in a position to pay the stamp duties. But that statute expressly provided that where patentees neglected to pay such fees within a certain specified time their rights lapsed, and the patent became the property of the public. In the present cases the patentees, through their own default, had forfeited their patents, which were now the property of the public, and they asked their Lordships by these Bills to take away the rights of the public, and to revive those of the patentees. Under such circumstances he should decline to recommend their second reading.