HL Deb 20 September 1939 vol 114 cc1100-2

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a Second time. This is a Bill which makes certain emergency provisions in connection with patents, industrial designs, copyright works and trade marks, and it is intended to bring into line with war conditions the Patent, Designs, Copyright and Trade Marks Acts. One of the main purposes of the Bill is to provide for the working or use in this country, in suitable cases, of inventions patented here, and registered designs and copyright works owned here, by enemies or enemy subjects. For this purpose, in the first place, by subsection (1) of Clause 1 of the Bill, licences which, before the war, had been granted to persons here by licensors who have become enemies, for working or using such inventions, designs and copyrights in this country, are continued in force so far as is necessary to allow the manufacture, or whatever it may be, to be continued here, but under restrictions which prevent the paying over of royalties to, and other unallowable dealings with, the enemy licensor during the war. Then, by subsection (2) of Clause 1, the Comptroller of the Patent Office is given power to revoke or vary any such licences already granted. This power extends not only to licences granted by persons who are "enemies" within the meaning of the Trading with the Enemy law because for example they are resident in enemy territory, but also to licences granted by enemy subjects resident outside enemy territory, so as to give some control over licences granted by such subjects.

In the next place, the important Clause 2 of the Bill gives power to the Comptroller to grant, to persons who are not enemies or enemy subjects, licences in respect of patented inventions, registered designs and copyright works, owned wholly or partly by enemies or enemy subjects, in cases in which it is in the interests of all or any of His Majesty's subjects that the invention should be worked here, or the design or copyright work should be reproduced or used here. Royalties payable under licences so granted will go to the custodian of enemy property. Clause 3 deals with trade marks owned by enemies or enemy subjects, but is concerned only with the comparatively rare cases where the trade mark constitutes the only practicable means of describing the article or substance in connection with which it has been used. In such a case, where a person in this country desires to deal in the article or substance, the Comptroller is empowered to suspend the trade mark rights in favour of that person so as to enable him to refer to the enemy-owned trade mark while he is establishing some other name or description for the goods in question.

In order that these provisions may apply to inventions, designs and trade marks in respect of which patents or registrations have been asked for in this country by enemies or enemy subjects but not at the time granted, Clause 4 enables such grants to be made in suitable cases. The resulting patent or registration will of course be subject to our law relating to the property of an enemy. Clause 5 makes corresponding provision for bringing enemy-owned copyrights into existence here during the war, in accordance with arrangements previously made under the Copyright Act, but it ensures again that any such copyrights shall be subject to our law as to enemy property.

The other main purpose of the Bill is dealt with in Clause 6. Under the Patents and Designs Acts and the Trade Marks Act, time limits are prescribed for doing various acts at the Patent Office in connection with the grant and renewal of patents, and the registration or renewal of the registration of designs and trade marks; and this clause enables the Comptroller to extend those times in cases where the doing of the act within the time prescribed was prevented by war conditions, or would be contrary to the interests of the person by whom the act is to be performed or to the public interest.

The remainder of the Bill is concerned chiefly with the machinery for carrying out its main provisions. Clause 7, for instance, lays down certain rules for ascertaining for the purposes of the Act the country of residence and the nationality of the person concerned. Clause 8 requires the Comptroller to give any person interested in the application of an order under the Act an opportunity of being heard before he arrives at a decision on the application, if he considers that it would be desirable to do so. Clause 9 enables the Board of Trade to make rules under the Act and, with the sanction of the Treasury, to fix fees. Clause 10 is the interpretation clause, and Clause 11 contains the short Title and brings the Act into operation as from the third day of this month—that is, the day of the declaration of war—and extends the Act to the Isle of Man and to Northern Ireland. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Templemore.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.