Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 07 March, 1989

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Controller of Patents.

9. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he has any proposals to introduce legislation to strengthen the managerial prerogative of the Controller of Patents, in light of the loss of a recent court case on the subject.

Mr. R. Burke: The new Patents Bill, the draft heads of which were approved by the Government in September last, will be drafted with a view to achieving the objective referred to by the Deputy.

Mr. J. Bruton: When does the Minister expect to present this Bill to the Dáil? Will it radically alter sections 12 and 13 of the 1964 Act which were determined by the court to give independent authority to examiners, thereby rendering them not subject to direction by the controller? Would the Minister indicate how [2367] this problem is being dealt with in the meantime in view of the apparent lack of authority of the controller under existing law?

Mr. R. Burke: The present position is most unsatisfactory. Since the decision of the court, and I have no argument that that is the decision of the court, the position in relation to the waiting list in the Patents Office has deteriorated. Therefore, as a result of the High Court decision, to give the controller the necessary powers to direct examination staff and to decide on procedure and practices which one would assume form part of the normal managerial role it will be necessary to change the law. Draft heads have been approved by the Government who have decided to give the controller this power under the new Patents Bill. The new law would establish a totally different approach to the examination of patent applications, the type of approach it was intended to adopt but which was found to be defective by the High Court. The present position is most unsatisfactory.

Mr. J. Bruton: I also asked the Minister when this legislation is likely to be presented. I do not think I need remind him that there are other urgent matters hanging on the introduction of this legislation so it is time, if I may say so, that the Minister was specific as to when this Bill will be brought in and debated.

Mr. R. Burke: I fully share and accept the Deputy's concerns in relation to this matter as, as he said, there are other issues involved which he has raised here on a number of occasions. This Bill is with the Attorney General and the Parliamentary Draftsman at present and I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made to have it brought forward as fast as possible. There is a time constraint no less than in other cases and I can assure the Deputy that no stone will be left unturned to bring this Bill forward as soon as possible. I am not prepared to [2368] give the Deputy a specific date in April or at the beginning of May but I can assure him that all the stops are being pulled out to have it brought forward.

Mr. J. Bruton: Before Easter?

Mr. R. Burke: No, it will not be brought forward before Easter but rather as soon as possible.