192 Report by Walker

Extracts PARIS, 16 April 1946


Report of the Australian Delegate The Second Session of the Assembly of the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency met in Brussels from the 2nd April to the 11th April 1946.

Prior to the Assembly there were also meetings of the committees on which Australia is represented, beginning on the 25th March.

[matter omitted]

First List of Industrial Plant 17. The first list of industrial plant available for allocation among the Members of the Agency was distributed, together with full inventories of plant and equipment concerned. This list contains items already previously communicated to governments through diplomatic channels, and the Australian Government had already indicated its interest in a number of these items. [1] However, these communications were prior to the establishment of the Reparations Agency and the allocation of certain of the plant originally listed to the U.S.S.R. Member Governments of the Reparations Agency are now required to make firm bids for items on this first list within 45 days of the date of its communication, i.e. not later than 25th May 1946. Governments are in no way bound by the expressions of interest made on a previous occasion through diplomatic channels.

[matter omitted]

German Merchant Ships 24. Prior to and during the Second Assembly, the Committee on Shipping established tables of losses and principles of allocation of German merchant marine. It was agreed that the shares of German shipping would be based on tonnages lost through enemy action without distinguishing between German, Italian and Japanese action. Several countries that had relatively heavy losses in the war in the Pacific reserved the right to propose a different basis of allocation for Japanese ships in the event of their becoming available as reparations. The Assembly completed the allocation of the two whaling factory ships that were available. The Walther Rau was allotted to Norway and the Unitas to the United Kingdom.

Although Australia had expressed an interest in the possibility of obtaining a whaling factory ship, our case was not strong enough to be pressed since our total shipping losses did not entitle us to a sufficiently large share of the tonnage available, and Australia had not lost any whaling factory ships in the course of the war.

[matter omitted]

Industrial Processes and Patents 26. Several meetings of the Committee appointed to consider Technical Processes and Patents [2] (subsequently christened the 'Industrial Rights Committee') were held prior to and during the Second Assembly. Matters raised were of such complexity that a separate report is being prepared. [3] In general, the Australian Delegation pressed for a clear distinction to be made between German technical information, on the one hand; and the exclusive property rights granted by the state when it grants a patent, on the other hand. With regard to the former, there appears to be almost general agreement with the Australian view that technical information should be made available freely to all members of the United Nations and that existing German patent rights should not constitute any barrier to such a policy. Declarations were made to the Agency regarding the policy of the United Kingdom, United States and France.

27. The greatest complexities arise in connection with patents granted in Allied countries before or during the war to Germans, neutrals, or Allied nationals, with respect to German inventions.

These patents may be regarded, strictly speaking, as German external assets, subject to the provisions of the Paris Agreement relating to the disposal of German external assets. However, the United States Government favours the making of an agreement under which such patents would be mainly thrown into the public domain.

28. The United Kingdom has stated that the time is ripe for an expert conference on such matters and the Assembly of the Reparations Agency passed a resolution requesting that a conference be called at an early date. There was some division of opinion as to whether the Reparations Agency itself would be a suitable authority to organise such a conference, and the balance of opinion seemed to be opposed to the Agency assuming its responsibility. The Australian Delegation took the view that it was within the competency of the Agency to draw the attention of the governments to problems affecting patents which arise incidentally from the allocation of plant or the treatment of external assets, but that our agreement to any detailed consideration of these matters by the Agency itself would require further instructions from the Australian Government.

[matter omitted]


1 A preliminary list of Australian interests is published in Volume VIII, Document 337.

2 See Document 126.

3 Document 223.

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