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Tuesday, 28 November 1905

Mr ROBINSON (Wannon) - It seems to me that this measure, if any, should be administered by a man of legal training; and in Victoria it has been thought advisable not only to leave the administration- of the Trade Marks and Patents Acts to the Attorney-General, but to appoint as the permanent head of the Department an officer who has received a legal training. When the Federal Patent Office was established, a number of Patent Attorneys urged that the Commissioner should possess legal qualifications, because the questions that would come before him would require the application of a skilled legal mind. That course was not followed; and, although the present Commissioner is a capable and obliging officer, his want of technical legal knowledge is a great drawback. The Registrar of Trade Marks should certainly be a highly qualified lawyer. It is not sufficient that difficult points should be referred to the AttorneyGeneral. The natural tendency of officials is not to refer any but the most difficult matters to the law adviser of the Government, and it becomes the practice of individuals possessing no legal training to settle technical matters for themselves, and very frequently provoke litigation. We should follow in the footsteps of Victoria, and place the Trade Marks Office under the administrative guidance of the Attorney-General. I make no reflections upon the present Minister of

Trade and Customs, or his predecessors; but I contend that the Trade Marks Bill should be administered by the AttorneyGeneral, because many questions of an exceedingly technical character will have to be decided. This matter may seem of very small importance to laymen, but those who have any dealings with the office will find that it is in the highest degree desirable to have a lawyer at the head of affairs.

Mr Wilkinson - Would the honorable and learned member separate the Trade Marks branch from the Patents Office?

Mr ROBINSON - I should prefer to see the Patents Office placed under the administration of the Attorney-General.

Mr Fisher - And the Customs Department, too?_

Mr ROBINSON - No*; that would be unreasonable. The cases arising in the Patents and Trade Marks Offices will, for the most part, involve questions of law ; whereas any man of reasonable intelligence, and of an inquiring mind, could settle for himself most of the matters of fact which have to be dealt with in the administration of the Customs Department.

Mr Watson - Is the. honorable and learned member's suggestion worth considering, unless we alter the present arrangement with regard to the Patents Office?

Mr ROBINSON - It would be an easy matter to pass a short Bill providing that the Patents Office should also be placed under the control of the Attorney-General.

Mr Wilkinson - Does not the honorable and learned member think th'at the permanent head of the Trade Marks branch should be independent of the Patents Office?

Mr ROBINSON - I would place both offices under the control of the AttorneyGeneral. I am sure that all those who have dealings with the Patents Office would be extremely pleased if it were placed under the administration of the AttorneyGeneral. I hope that this suggestion, which is made in no' hostile spirit, will receive a sympathetic reception at the. hands of the Minister.

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