Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)
What change does this
make in the existing law?
Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Ministei of Railways and Canals) moved the second reading of Bill No. 6, to confirm a certain agreement made between the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the Canadian National Railway Company. Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to the select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.
Hon. FERNAND RINFRET (Secretary of State) moved the second reading of Bill No. 7, to amend the Patent Act. Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Johnston in the chair. On section 1-manufacture for reasonable requirements.
What change does this
make in the existing law?
As I explained somewhat briefly on the first reading, the purpose of this amendment is to bring the Patent Act into conformity with the terms of the international convention for the protection of industrial property, which was agreed to at The Hague conference in 1925. Canada was represented at that conference by Mr. Frederick Herbert Palmer, Canadian government trade commissioner, and we were a party to the convention, which was signed on our behalf by our representative. The intention now is to incorporate in the Patent Act the changes which were agreed upon at The Hague conference.
Hon. members will notice that the changes that are being made are underlined in the bill before them. It has always been the law that every patentee must satisfy the reasonable requirements of the public with reference to his patent. It was thought by The Hague conference that this provision might be made clearer, and that every country that was a party to the convention should agree not only that [the patented article should meet the requirements of the public, but that it should be manufactured in the country. That is the reason, Mr. Chairman, for the amendments that are proposed to subsections (b) and (c) of section 40 of the act. Subsection (b) as proposed to be amended will read:
Patent Act [DOT]
Any person interested may present a petition to the commissioner alleging that the reasonable requirements of the public with respect to a patented invention have not been satisfied-
Then follows the addition:
or that the patentee has failed to adequately manufacture the patented invention in Canada.
and so forth.
What is the minister's
definition of "reasonable requirements" of the public? How does he arrive at his definition?
I believe that the very
reason why this change is proposed is that there was confusion as to just what was meant by that phrase. It has often been the experience of the department, and I believe of similar departments in other countries, that after an article has been patented, the patent simply lies there in oblivion without any attempt being made, at all to give the public the benefit of the invention. I would interpret the words "reasonable requirements of the public" to mean that the public could reasonably buy the patented article, and that it should be on the market in sufficient numbers to be available to any purchaser. I believe the reason for the change in the section which is now embodied in the bill amending the original act is to make the act clear, not only that the patentee is required to see that the requirements of the public are looked after, but to see that the patented article is manufactured in the country.
Does that mean that he will lose his right if he does not manufacture the article?
No. There is provision
made in reigard to that. We will come to it in another section. If the requirements of the public are not satisfied, or if the patentee fails to manufacture the article, any citizen may apply for a license to manufacture the article.
That is terrible.
That has been the law for a long while.
It robs a man of his right.
Referring to paragraph (b), it is provided that the patentee be ordered to supply the patented article at a reasonable price. I would ask the minister whether 'he has any organization in his department which can determine whether a patented article is sold at a reasonable price or not.
It is pretty hard to determine what is a reasonable price. I suppose there is competition. I suppose a reasonable price is arrived at having reference to the prices of similar articles. In the case of a patented article which would be in a class by itself I would interpret this section as being within the discretion of the department to determine, whether the price is reasonable or not, but I may say there is no intention on the part of the department to fix the price of the article. The only discretion is to determine whether the patented article is sold at a reasonable price, and if not the department would have authority to grant a license to someone else, in order to place a similar article at the disposal of the public at -a lower price. I think that is what it would mean.
Section 40 subsection (c) provides for that very thing-that the commissioner may fix the price.
I would 'call the attention of the minister to the glaring defect in the drafting of the section which I know as a literary man he will appreciate. The draftsman has employed the practice of splitting the infinitive. At the end of the nineteenth line I find the words: ,
Or that the patentee has failed to adequately manufacture.
If it were made to read "has failed to manufacture adequately," I think it would be more in harmony with literary taste and good English.
If my hon. friend the minister will look at paragraph (c) of section 40 he will observe on the second page of the bill the provision that the order shall not be made less than one year after the thirteenth day of June 1023. All those words are wholly unnecessary in 1928, because he is merely reenacting a section which has been repealed. To speak of 1923 at this time in 1928 would obviously have no application at all and might as well be deleted from the bill.
I would ask my hon.
friend to make that point clear to me.
The statute apparently
was passed prior to 1923, and provision is made that no order shall be issued before the expiration of three years from the date of the patent and "not less than one year after the thirteenth day of June one thousand nine hundred and twenty-three". Obviously any order that can be made in 1928 must be at least one year after the 13th day of June, 1923. Those words can have no possible application.
It saye "not more tlhan
one year after the passing of the act".