126 Report by Walker

Extracts PARIS, 12 March 1946


Report of the Australian Delegate The First Session of the Assembly of the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency, established under the Paris Reparations Agreement of January, 1946, met in Brussels from the 28th February to 7th March, 1946. Delegates from the following countries were present:

United States of America India Australia Luxembourg Belgium Norway Canada New Zealand Denmark Netherlands France Czechoslovakia Great Britain Union of South Africa Greece Yugoslavia

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Standing Committees of the Assembly 19. The Assembly established eight standing committees to concentrate on the specialised problems arising, and to carry on the work of the Assembly between Sessions in particular fields.

The Australian Delegate was appointed to five of these committees, namely, the Credentials Committee, the Financial and Budgetary Committee, the Shipping Committee, the Committee on Procedure in Industrial, Technical, Artistic and Literary Property Rights.

20. Membership of these committees gives Australia a significant place in planning the work of the Agency and an opportunity to influence those sections of its operations which are of greatest interest to the Australian Government. The three committees on which Australia is not represented are:-Inland Water Transport, Current Production, and German External Assets. It is provided in the case of the last-mentioned committee that whenever a matter affecting a particular country is under consideration, that country's delegate shall be co-opted to the committee.

Industrial Plant 21. No industrial plant has yet been allocated to any of the western powers by way of reparations. Reference was made by some delegates to alleged transfers of certain equipment to some countries, but it is believed that this information relates to specialised scientific and other equipment taken as war booty by the occupying forces.

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Patents and industrial Processes 28. As already reported by cable, the Belgian delegate proposed the establishment of a Committee on Industrial, Technical, Scientific, Artistic and Literary Property Rights. The United Kingdom delegate did not encourage this proposal, but the Belgian delegate pressed it and received considerable support from other small countries, which clearly have not enjoyed the facilities afforded to Australia by the United Kingdom for the examination of German technical processes. The United Kingdom delegate stated that it was the policy of his Government to place patent and technical rights at the disposal of all the United Nations, and he suggested that the questions raised by the Belgian delegate did not properly fall within the province of the Reparations Agency.

29. However, the delegates of Netherlands, Canada, and Yugoslavia stressed the intimate connection between patents and other aspects of reparations. On the one hand, it was pointed out that German owned patents in other allied countries are included under German external assets, which, in turn, are covered by the Paris Agreement. In addition, it was pointed out that the liberty of a country to use plant awarded to it under the Reparations Agreement, and to export the production of such plant, might be limited by the existence of patents.

30. The Assembly finally decided to establish the Committee and appointed to it the delegates of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Yugoslavia, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States. The Belgian delegate pressed for an early meeting of the Committee, which accordingly met on Friday, 8th March. The United Kingdom delegate was elected chairman. The Committee agreed that the three occupying powers should be asked to provide material for a statement covering the steps taken by them to preserve scientific and technical documents following the invasion of Germany, and also to make such information available to other members of the United Nations. The Committee also decided to draw the attention of the Assembly to the various problems that may arise from the existence of patents affecting processes of plant that will be awarded to various countries by way of reparations.

The Belgian delegate was asked to prepare in more detail proposed terms of reference for the committee, and the Secretariat was asked to secure certain documentation relating to the handling of patent rights after the last war. On the initiative of the French delegate, the terms of reference will also refer to problems associated with copyrights. The next meeting of the Committee will be on 1st April, 1946.

31. It seems likely that this move by the Belgian delegate will lead the occupying powers to take more definite steps to make available industrial processes to other members of the United Nations. It is by no means clear that this will improve the facilities already made available to Australia by the United Kingdom Government. [1]

32. The question of patents is so complicated that it seems unlikely that discussions can be carried very far within the framework of the Reparations Agency. The United Kingdom Government will presumably oppose any move to bring German patents within the general scheme of allocation contemplated in the Reparations Agreement, and it would seem more likely that if practical difficulties arise in providing access for the United Nations to German patents, there will be a need for a separate conference on the existing international conventions on patents.

33. In view of Australia's special interest in the matter of industrial processes, we shall follow the discussions in the Agency very closely, and will report immediately on any significant developments. The delegation will have the advice of Mr. Davies [2], the patent expert who is a member of the Scientific and Technical Mission, but it would be very helpful if any relevant material and information could be forwarded from Australia for the guidance of the delegation.

Shipping 34. Australia is a member of the Shipping Committee, along with twelve other governments, which suffered losses of shipping during the war. It is estimated that approximately 293 German ships, amounting to a little more than 800,000 tons gross registered weight, will be available for division among the members of the Agency in proportion to their losses through enemy action. In view of the heavy losses suffered by the United Kingdom and other countries, Australia's share will be very small.

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1 Walker's cable, dispatched 10 March, had warned of a 'danger that intervention by Agency would only complicate matters from our viewpoint', and added: 'Since United Kingdom privately indicated that they will work against Belgian move...we showed only sufficient interest to ensure election to Committee.' A reply from Canberra on 12 March agreed that patents should not be brought within reparations machinery.

2 L.B. Davies, Patent Attorney, of Melbourne.

[AA:A1067, ER46/19/1/2]