New Clause 1 - Compulsory binding technical arbitration for new and existing patents

Part of Patents Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 15th June 2004.

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Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Trade and Industry) (Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs) 3:15 pm, 15th June 2004

As ever, we have had a useful debate on issues affecting many of the people involved with patents, including small and large companies. It has always been the intention of the Secretary of State, of the Department of Trade and Industry and of Ministers to do whatever we can to support small businesses. The Small Business Service considers regulation issues to ensure that there is an impact on small businesses. Hon. Members should consider the Bill in the wider context of the DTI's and the Government's motivation and their concern with small businesses.

We keep returning to why the Bill is being introduced now, why we do not wait until the enforcement project reports and why we are not considering other issues as we progress. There was a great deal of debate on Second Reading about things that were not in the Bill, but which should have been. I acknowledge that some hon. Members have concerns about that. The reason that I gave for the Bill's being

processed now, and why it was urgent to do so, was that we had to bring UK patent law in line with the European patent convention. However, that does not mean that Europe has forced us into it. We are key players in the convention.

It would be wrong to delay the Bill until the results of the research of the patent enforcement project are known. Failure to bring UK law into line with the EPC provisions would mean that the UK was outside, and we would have to leave the convention. We discussed earlier how disastrous that would be. Nobody has introduced that as a possibility—it would be detrimental to all UK stakeholders.