§ Ms Stuart
[holding answer 20 December 1999]: The Crown has no general immunity from proceedings in respect of infringement of a patent. However the Patents Act 1977, sections 55 to 59, allow the use of patented inventions for the services of the Crown without the consent of the patent owner. If these provisions are relied on, compensation for loss of profit has to be paid.
Law reports show the equivalent provisions in the Patents Act 1949 were used in 1961 by the then Minister of Health in respect of the anti-biotic tetracycline, but officials in my Department are not aware that these provisions have been relied on in recent years as regards medical products.