223 Report by Walker

Extracts PARIS, 30 April 1946


Supplementary Report by the Australian Delegate on Patents and industrial Processes

In my report on the First Session of the Assembly, paragraphs 28 to 33 [1], I dealt with the establishment by the Assembly of a Committee on Industrial, Technical, Scientific, Artistic and Literary Property Rights, and with the first meeting of the Committee. The present report deals with further meetings of the Committee held prior to and during the Second Session of the Assembly. [2]

[matter omitted]

General Policy of Delegation 4. The whole subject is a very large one and discussions during the Assembly revealed many cross-currents, some of which were based purely on intellectual confusion, although others reflected divergencies of interest. The matters raised on several occasions extended beyond the scope of such detailed instructions as had been given to the Australian delegation and touched on policy issues that may not yet have been fully considered by the Australian Government. In the circumstances the general position adopted by the Australian delegation was that set out in the following statement which is recorded in the minutes of the third meeting of the Committee.

'Referring to the Minutes of the second Meeting, Mr. WALKER said that he wished to make a formal statement on the views of his Government which were as follows: 1. A distinction is to be drawn between the technical information disclosed by the specifications of a patent, on the one hand, and the exclusive monopolistic rights conferred by the State when it issues the patent, on the other.

2. With regard to German technical information and processes it is the view of the Australian Government that they should be made available to all the United Nations, and that no attempt should be made to allot them or reserve them for particular countries.

3. With regard to German owned patents in Germany, the Australian Government would not agree to any attempt to value the property rights they represent or to allot them among the members of the Agency. The Australian Government adhered to the Paris Agreement [3] in the belief that such patents did not fall within its scope.

4. The Australian Government will not object to I.A.R.A. drawing the attention of Governments to any problems in the patent field that arise incidentally to the delivery of German industrial plant. Nevertheless any extensive examination of such technical questions would be better handled outside I.A.R.A., if necessary by a special conference of governments.' 5. The delegation has assumed that the Government would welcome any move that would assist Australia's access to German technical information and remove obstacles to its practical application in Australian industry. On the one hand we have resisted any suggestion that German patent rights could be treated as property subject to allocation among members of the Agency in accordance with the table of shares set out in Part I, Article 1 of the Paris Agreement on Reparations. In this matter we found ourselves in agreement with the United Kingdom and American delegations and indeed with the majority of the members of the Agency. Only the French delegate (the President of the Agency) [4] seemed inclined to the view that patent rights should be treated in the same way as other forms of property that might be declared available as reparation.

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14. Since the Committee was tending to flounder as to the course to be followed, I proposed as a basis of discussion a draft resolution (I.A.R.A./A.S./Doc.19) which referred to the statement circulated by the delegate of the United Kingdom and to the United States' resolution [5] and proposed that the Assembly request the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and France as a matter of urgency to call a technical conference to formulate for the consideration of interested Allied governments rules for the treatment of German patent and other industrial property rights.

15. When the report of the Committee came before the Full Assembly on April 9th, there was a rather confused discussion but finally a resolution was adopted which differed little from that suggested [by] myself The final resolution, however, includes words to make it clear that the Assembly as a whole does not express any opinion regarding the views contained in the document circulated by the United Kingdom Government or in the United States resolution recommended by the Committee on Industrial Rights.

16. I desire to draw the attention of the Government specifically to the probability that such a conference will be called in the near future. It will no doubt be the desire of the Government to be represented at such a conference and it will therefore be necessary for the Government to approach the United Kingdom Government direct to ensure that Australia is invited to take part in these discussions. In pressing Australia's claims for inclusion, attention could be drawn, if desired, to the part played by the Australian delegation in the discussions at the Reparations Agency, which resulted in the initiative being left to the three governments mentioned rather than with the Reparations Agency itself. In following this course at the Assembly, the Australian delegation, of course, expected that Australia would be a party to the proposed conference. [6]

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1 See Document 126.

2 See also Document 192.

3 i.e. the agreement drawn up at the Reparations Conference held in Paris from 9 November to 21 December 1945.

4 M. Jacques Rueff.

5 A U.S. proposal, adopted by the Committee on Industrial Rights, that delegates recommend to their governments action to make available any German patent rights within their jurisdiction royalty-free to their own nationals and to the nationals of countries according reciprocal privileges. The U.K. statement generally supported the U.S. position.

6 A technical conference was held in London from 15 to 27 July. An accord along the lines foreshadowed in note 5 was signed immediately by the three convening governments and the Netherlands, and was to remain open for signature until 31 December. The Australian delegates, H. F. E. Whitlam and L. B.

Davies, lodged a statement giving their personal approval without committing the Australian Govt. The matter does not seem to have come to Cabinet before the stipulated date, though a draft agendum, dated 9 December and prepared jointly on behalf of the External Affairs and Attorney-General's Depts, argued against signing on the grounds of possible competition for Australian manufacturers from countries with reciprocal privileges.

[AA:A4231/2, PARIS 1946, 46-68]