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In this chapter the system of arrangement adopted
in the Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Act, 1883,
in the treatment of the subject has been followed :


Under the head of patents it will be necessary to
consider at greater length than perhaps is con-
sistent with an introductory chapter what kind of
inventions may be valid subject-matter of letters
patent, and what is the consideration for which the
privilege is granted to the inventor.

statutes and


A. Substantially the law of patents is but little Repeal of changed. The authors of the Act have repealed codification and consolidated into a single enactment the statutes relating to patents, with the exception of the unrepealed portions of the Statute of Monopolies. When this statute (21 James I. Ch. 3) was passed

Simplification of

it was declaratory of the common law, and since then the law of patents has been built up by judicial decisions in interpretation of its provisions. It will thus readily be seen that the codification above referred to relates to procedure and not to the principles of patent law.

A great change is effected by the simplification procedure. of the process for obtaining letters patent. Thus,

under the repealed statutes, on an unopposed application with a provisional specification it was necessary for an intending patentee, or his agent, to apply personally at least seven times, and make four separate payments, using four documents for the application; whereas now an applicant, or his agent, need only call at, or send by post to, the Patent Office twice-first, with the declaration and provisional specification, and afterwards with the complete specification. If the complete specification is lodged with the application, all the requirements can be complied with at one visit, or in one delivery if sent by post.

The payments are also considerably reduced. A provisional protection for nine months can now be obtained for the small sum of one pound; and for three pounds more the specification, is completed, and a patent granted on which no further payment is required for four years. The cost of obtaining a patent under the repealed Acts was £25, and the protection, unless further payments were made,



only extended for three years. The subsequent payments (a) remain unchanged in amount, but facilities are given to patentees to pay them by easy instalments if they prefer; and if by accident or mistake the prescribed fee be not paid within the prescribed time, the Comptroller-General of Patents is given power, on certain conditions, to enlarge the time for payment for a period not exceeding three months (6).

The Administration of the Patent Office is placed in the hands of the Comptroller-General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks, who is appointed by and acts under the direction of the Board of Trade, who are empowered from time to time to make such general rules (c) (subject to the approval of Parliament) and do such things as they may think expedient for carrying out the provisions of the Act (d).

Since the passing of the Patent Law Amendment CommisAct, 1852 (e) the business relating to patents, before divided among several Government offices,

sioners of Patents.

(a) See Patents Rules, first schedule, page 215. (6) S. 17.

(c) The power has already been exercised by the repeal of the rules made under the authority of the commissioners, and the issuing of new rules for patents, designs, and trade marks, dated 21st December, 1883. See pp. 186, 241, 264.

(d) S. 101.
(e) 15 & 16 Vict. c. 83.

of Lord

Law officers.

has been transacted under the direction of the Commissioners of Patents. The commissioners, who now as a body cease to exist, were the Lord

Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, and the Law Jurisdiction Officers of the Crown. The jurisdiction of the Chancellor. Lord Chancellor to affix or refuse the seal, and to

hear oppositions to the grant of letters patent, which was specially exempted from the Act constituting the Court of Appeal in Chancery (f) and continued by the Judicature Acts of 1873 and 1875, is not preserved by this Act.

The ultimate appeal on all questions relating to applications, provisional and complete specifications, and oppositions to the grant of letters patent, is now to the law officers of the Crown (g), who receive increased judicial functions, being empowered to examine witnesses on oath, to order the payment

of costs, and to make rules regulating the practice Examiners and procedure on appeals before them (h). A staff

of examiners of patents has been appointed, whose duty is to ascertain whether the nature of the invention has been fairly described, and the application, specification, and drawings (if any) have

(f) 14 & 15 Vict. c. 13, s. 83.

(9) Her Majesty's Attorney-General and Solicitor-General for England.

(h) See s. 38. This power has been exercised by the issue of rules and regulations embodied in those published by the Board of Trade. See p. 211.

been prepared in the prescribed manner, and to report thereon to the comptroller (i). This investigation does not extend to novelty or the subject matter of the invention. The most difficult of these duties will be to ascertain " whether the nature of the invention has been fairly described.” If the examiners perform their functions strictly, these words must very shortly be the subject of judicial decision.

Patents will be granted to other persons jointly Joint appliwith an inventor, but at least one of the applicants must sign a declaration that he is the first and true inventor (j); also to the personal representative of an inventor who dies without making an application for a patent for the invention (k). In future Patent for a patent will be granted for one invention only ; tion only. but, as more than one claim is allowed, the practice and rules can alone determine what claims are subsidiary, and what contain too great an amount of invention to be incorporated in the same patent. However, if the patent is once granted, no objection on this ground can be made to the validity of the patent in actions for revocation and infringement.

By s. 36 it is enacted that a patentee may assign Assignhis patent for any place in or part of the United Kingdom or Isle of Man as effectually as if the patent were originally granted to extend to that

one inven.


(i) See ss. 6, 7, 9, and notes. (j) See s. 4.

(7) See s. 34.

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