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Wednesday, 20 June 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I am very glad, as the Minister in charge of the Bill, to have had the benefit of the discussion on this clause. The Government were confronted with considerable difficulty in making provision to meet the class of cases contemplated here - where a man has registered a design, and thereby obtained protection for five years, and the exclusive right during, that period to apply it to certain articlesIt is quite possible that, in some instances,, a person may obtain this right by registration in a purely speculative way. It is quite possible, on the other hand, that a person may take advantage of registration without having in his mind any intention at the time to apply the design in> the manufacture of articles in Australia. The difficulty we were confronted with was to ascertain what provision we should have in order to forfeit a copyright in a design, should a designer fail to comply with the spirit of this measure. The term before us was that provided in the English Act, and this provision may be looked on asone which regulates the terms and conditions on which copyright in designs is enjoyed. The Legislature says, " You acquire a copyright in design by registration, but there are certain conditions attached to your continued enjoyment of that copyright." In the English Act referred toby Senator Symon it is provided that if a design is used abroad in the manufacture of articles, and for six months after registration is not used in Great Britain for that purpose, the copyright shall cease. We have provided in the clause, as it stands,, that the owner, having obtained a copyright for five years, shall forfeit, if within twelve months he does not substantially use or cause to be substantially used1 the design in the manufacture of articles in Australia. I may say that, personally, the view urged by Senator Symon is one which, to some extent, commended itself to my mind. It is quite possible that a man without any capital may originate a design which should insure to him some reward for his skill and labour in connexion with its origination. Whenwe say to such a man that if he, having acquired a copyright for five years, doesnot use it or cause it to be used within twelve months, he shall forfeit, he is placed in a position which may prejudice him. Somebody who otherwise would beperfectly willing to use the design and to pay reasonably for the privilege, might under such circumstances say, " There are only one or two others besides myself who are ever likely to be in a position to apply such a design to articles of manufacture in Australia, and, therefore, we shall let the term of twelve months run out, when we can have the benefit of the design, which, by that time, will have fallen into the public domain." The object of the legislation is to encourage designing in Australia, and also not to put the designer from abroad, or the person, whether foreign or Australian, who uses the designs abroad, in, at any rate, any better position than our own people. As to the amendment, I have to say that on consideration I shall offer no opposition to it. It will more amply secure persons who have originated designs, but who have not the means to give practical effect to them - persons who have to depend largely on our own people to buy the result of their work.

Senator Dobson - Can we differentiate between the foreigner and the Australian without clashing with Great Britain and the Convention ?

Senator KEATING - Undoubtedly we can make special 'provisions of our own to apply to all. The English Act of 1883 makes it a ground of forfeiture if a design is used in a foreign country, and is not used in England for six months ; and that would indicate that some differentiation was contemplated.

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