Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    
Thursday, 8 December 1938

Mr Price e asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

1.   Did a former Commissioner of Patents, Mr. G-. S. Brown, instruct or advise any of the examiners to search to any extent in the Patents Office Library as to the novelty of matters for which patent applications were in the hands of examiners for report under section 41 of the Patents Act?

2.   What are the texts and dates of the said commissioner's- minutes, if any, supplementing his verbal instructions?

3.   What are the names of the examiners who, afterwards searching in the Patents Office Library as to the subject-matter of complete specifications of patents on which they had to report to the said commissioner, discovered that some or all of the subject-matter related to. what was not novel, and reported accordingly, citing specifications which were in the library for public information?

4.   In how many cases were such reports of want of novelty made by each examiner, and in how many cases did the commissioner mentioned cause the applicants to be so informed with the result that patents as applied for were, in certain of the cases, not granted?

5.   Has the Commissioner of Patents, Mr. Wallach, indicated to any examiners that they were not to, or need not, search on the subject of novelty in the Patents Office Library into British and/or American specifications open to the public before making reports under section 41?

6.   If so, what are the texts and dates of the commissioner's minutes ?

7.   Is it part of the duty of Patents Office examiners to keep themselves expert and up to date in their respective subjects in so far as concerns perusing what is in the Patent* Office Library in English in those subjects, and particularly specifications of British and American patents open to the public prior to the lodging of applications on which the examiners have to report under section 41 ?

8.   What salary was paid to the Chief Examiner, and what extra payment as overtime or otherwise in each of the years 1934, 1935, 1930, 1937, and up to the end of September, 1938; and what salary, with extra payments, was paid to the commissioner in those periods, stating separately the amount paid in connexion with the commissioner's visit to London ?

Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1 to 7. The detailed questions asked by the honorable member relate mainly to the scope of the examination of applications for patents. A great deal of investigation would be necessary in order to furnish categorical replies to the various questions asked by the honorable member. I think, however, that the following reply will give the honorable member the substance of the information which he desires.

The scope of the examination of applications for patents has received consideration on a number of occasions in the past. In 1907, it was the subject of a considered opinion by the then secretary to the Attorney-General's Department (afterwards Solicitor-General). In the course of that opinion, Sir Robert Garran advised that, while the Patent Office was under an obligation to make a search among the prior Australian patents specifications, it was under no obligation to make a search among the British specifications. I am in accord with that advising. It may be mentioned that the whole question of the scope of the examination was considered by Parliament while the Patents Bill 1903, was under discussion, and an amendment, moved in another place, that the scope of the examination should extend to United Kingdom specifications was rejected (see Hansard, 1903, Vol. 15, pp. 3305-3310). A debate on the examination provisions also occurred in this House {Hansard, 1903, Vol. 15, pp. 5585-7).

During the tenure of office of Mr. G. S. Brown, as Commissioner of Patents a partial method of name-index-searching against applications received from abroad was introduced, the starch going back to a period of five years only, prior to the date of the application, and being initially conducted not by a n Examiner of Patents but the librarian of the office. Thus, if an applicant with an address in the United- Kingdom applied in Australia for a patent, the librarian was instructed to search in the United Kingdom name index to see if an applicant of that name had, within the previous five years, applied for a patent in the United Kingdom. But if the applicant gave an Australian address, no search in the United Kingdom name index was made. This method of search would not have disclosed the fact than an application fora patent for the identical invention had been made by a person having some other name or by an agent. It seems obvious that the only scientific way in which to search against inventions is to search by subjectmatter, not by name of applicant.

Upon the appointment of the present Commissioner, this method of conducting a partial and unscientific name-index-search among the British specifications was terminated, and a method of search in consonance with the intention of Parliament, as expressed in section 41 of the Patents Act, was reverted to.

8.   The Chief Examiner of Patents was paid the following salary and allowances: -


The Commissioner of Patents was paid the following salary: -


The Commissioner did not receive any extra payments during those years.

The amount paid in connexion with theCommissioner's visit to London to represent the Commonwealth at the London revision of the International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was £1,089.

Suggest corrections