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Saturday, 16 December 1905

Mr HIGGINS (Northern. Melbourne) - I think it would be a reasonable thing if, after the second reading of the measure has been carried, the Minister agreed to postpone its further consideration. When the honorable and learned member for Parkes caught Mr. Speaker's eye, I was about to take the same point that he has taken. Although I do not think that there is any occasion for a display of heat between honorable members, there is no doubt that he is right in saying that the Bill is not a formal one. It may bear very grievously upon applicants for patents. If there are two rival applicants for a similar patent it is possible to grievously injure the man who has been holding back to see if his opponent has sacrificed his rights owing to his neglect to take action within the prescribed time. I can see by the instances which have been cited by the honorable member for Bland that there are cases which require to be met. A very natural mistake has been made-

Sir William Lyne - It was made in the initial stages of the consideration of the original Bill.

Mr HIGGINS - The provision that an applicant may lodge an application before the Act came into operation is a peculiar one, and some misunderstanding has very naturally resulted. I am quite sure that no honorable member would care to see an applicant injured by placing a wrong construction upon the Act. As the honorable and learned member forParkes has pointed out, it is possible, in remedying our mistake, to give the sections of the principal Act a wider scope than is desirable. This Bill would practically allow the Commissioner to say which of two rival applicants he would favour. The title to a patent is a matter which ought not to be interfered with without the gravest consideration. Then, if it is proper to revive early applications for patents, we ought to make similar provision in respect to future applications. Why should we extend the period prescribed by the law as to applications within sixteen months after the passing of the Act, and not subsequently? I do not quite understand either the need for clause 2 or clause 8, but I have no doubt that they have been well thought out, and that the Minister will give us the reasons underlying them, besides showing us how they fit one into the other. I would suggest to him that after the second reading of the Bill hasbeen carried, he should allow honorable members an opportunity of studying its details. In the interval the AttorneyGeneral and the law officers of the Crown might easily consider whether or not these clauses do not go a little too far.

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