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Friday, 14 May 1915

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I move -

That the following proposed new sections be added at the end of the clause : - "5. The Minister may, if in his absolute discretion he thinks lit so to do, in the order granting or refusing any application under this Act for the avoidance or suspension of a patent or licence, or by a subsequent order, award costs against any party (whether successful or not) appearing at the hearing or inquiry held upon the said application."

6.   Any sum ordered by the Minister to be paid as costs may, in default of payment, be recovered in any Federal or State Court of competent jurisdictionas a debt due by the person against whom the order is made to the person in whose favour the order is made."

I submit this amendment for the purpose of safeguarding the rights of applicants for the suspension or avoidance of a patent. They have in the past been in a very difficult position. A person who desires to use any of the patents which are dealt with under this measure should be given every facility to approach the tribunal dealing with the matter as cheaply and as easily as possible. I am aware that the successful applicant for the suspension of the patent for the thermit welding process, to which so much reference has been made this morning, secured legal assistance and was at considerable trouble and expense in prosecuting his application, but after he was successful the licence to use the patent was given not to him, but to a third party, who had made no application for the suspension of the patent at all.

Senator Bakhap - But who was a representative of the Commonwealth.

Senator DE LARGIE - That is so, and, notwithstanding all that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has said, I quite agree that the Government should keep the operation of this patent in their own hands, provided always that, having got it, they make use of it. According to the Act as it stands, only one party is entitled to a licence to operate any of these patents, and that person isthe successful applicant for its suspension. As there was only one successful applicant for the suspension of the patent referred to, it was, in my opinion, an injustice to that applicant to refuse him the licence. Should my amendment be agreed to, if a similar case arose in the future, the person who went to the trouble and expense of successfully prosecuting an .application for the suspension of a patent might at least look forward to recovering the costs he had incurred. In the case which has been referred to, the patent was held by a wealthy German company, established and carrying on business in Australia under an English name - the Australian Thermit Welding Company Limited. The man who came forward to fight that company, and was successful in his application for the suspension of their patent, ought at least to be given the expenses he incurred in prosecuting his application.

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