HL Deb 06 December 1956 vol 200 cc811-3

3.18 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, in moving that this Bill be read a third time I desire to refer to one point which arose during the Committee stage. In answer to a question put by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I then undertook to consider whether it is correct that a man who wants his patent quickly is not unnecessarily held up by those who prefer to delay, and also whether it is possible for the Patent Office to operate some system whereby people who want their patents quickly can be distinguished from those who legitimately want to delay. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, is unable to be in the House to-day, and if that inconvenience has in any way been caused by precipitate action on our part in bringing the Bill forward a little quickly, I would ask his noble friends opposite to apologise to him on my behalf.

I think it is true to say—and inquiry proves this to be so—that every applicant wants to have as soon as possible the first results of the search conducted in the Patent Office. After he knows the result of that search, for which, at the moment, he has to wait, on the average, about fifteen months, the speed at which his application proceeds is almost entirely in his own hands. The sooner he takes action to amend his specification to satisfy the examiner's objections, the sooner his patent is granted. There is little delay in the Patent Office in dealing with amendments submitted to his specification. On the other hand, the man who wishes to delay publication can, by failing to answer the examiner's objections promptly, hold up publication and grant of the patent until near the end of the statutory maximum period.

During the Committee stage I spoke about consultations which had taken place with industry and the professional bodies before this Bill was introduced. The organisations consulted were solidly opposed to giving priority of examination to certain applicants. Indeed, as I think your Lordships will see, this might well operate most unfairly: for example, an application might be taken out of turn and a patent granted to the applicant, whereas, had it been examined in its turn, it would have been found to have been anticipated by a different and earlier application filed by another inventor who had been less importunate in demanding early examination. It would, I think, be quite impracticable for the Patent Office to distinguish between the applicant who has legitimate reasons for delay and the one who has not—indeed, it would take an Act of Parliament to lay down what are legitimate reasons. I have gone into the matter very carefully, and I am satisfied with the situation as it is. I think the question which Lord Lucas of Chilworth raised is answered in these inquiries. I hope that perhaps his noble friends opposite will convey that answer to him, and that he will, in due course, be able to notify his satisfaction to me. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a(Lord Mancroft.)

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.