Catalogue description Records of the Patent Office

Details of Division within BT
Reference: Division within BT
Title: Records of the Patent Office

Records of the Patent Office relating to the patenting of inventions.

General files of the Patent Office and Industrial Property Department are in BT 209.

Registers of designs under the Ornamental Design Act 1842 and subsequent legislation, giving the registered number of the design, date of registration, type of design, maker's name and address, and possibly the designer's name, are in BT 44, BT 46, BT 48, BT 51 and BT 53.

Representations under the Design Copyright Act 1839 and subsequent legislation, being samples, drawings or photographs of registered articles, are in BT 42, BT 43, BT 45, BT 47, BT 50 and BT 52.

Representations of trade marks from 1876 are in BT 82 and BT 244.

The nineteenth and early twentieth century registers and indexes of patents and trade marks formerly in BT 73, BT 74, BT 75 (patents) and BT 80, BT 81, BT 86, and BT 92 (trade marks) were destroyed in 1963 in accordance with Public Records Act 1958 s6, with the exception of a few specimens transferred to BT 900.

Date: 1839-1991
Related material:

Judges' notebooks are in J 130

The law officers' records relating to patents, including caveats against patents and particulars of inventions, and other papers relating to litigation, are in LO 1

Records of the Trade Marks Committee, 1933 are in BT 304

Records of the Banks Committee on the Patent System and Patent Law are in BT 136

Records of the Patented and Unpatented Inventions Policy Committee and of its 1944 predecessor are in BT 305

Records of the Patents Committee, 1944 are in BT 306

Court books are in J 99

Patents Appeal Tribunal files are in J 105

Sample case files of patent appeals before 1932 are in LO 4

Sir Henry Reader Lack was successively clerk to the commissioners of patents, registrar of designs and trade marks, and Comptroller General of the Patent Office, 1876 to 1897. Papers are in BT 191

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Trade, Patent Office and Industrial Property and Copyright Department, 1965-1970

Board of Trade, Patent Office and Industrial Property Department, 1919-1965

Board of Trade, Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Office, 1852-1923

Department of Trade and Industry, Patent Office and Industrial Property and Copyright Department, 1970-1974

Department of Trade and Industry, Patent Office and Industrial Property and Copyright Department, 1983-1989

Department of Trade, Patent Office and Industrial Property and Copyright Department, 1974-1983

Office of the Registrar of Designs, 1839-1852

Physical description: 25 series
Publication note:

See: TNA research guides, 3 Inventions: Patents and Specifications; 100 Registered Designs and Trade Marks; and 101 Registered Designs: Diamond Marks. A complete set of printed specifications of patents is available in the Patent Office Library and since 1854 the Office has published a weekly Journal of Patents. The Patent Office also publishes a weekly Trade Marks Journal in which all newly accepted marks are reproduced.

Administrative / biographical background:

The Patent Office came into being as a single centralised office, responsible for all matters concerning the obtaining of patents for inventions, as a result of the Patent Law Amendment Act 1852, which swept away most of the antiquated and cumbersome procedure that had been in use for the previous three centuries. The new act completely separated patents for inventions from other patents under the royal prerogative and placed them under the control of commissioners of patents, consisting of the Lord Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls, and the law officers.

The act provided that specifications, instead of being enrolled in Chancery, should thereafter be filed in the office of the commissioners, and should be printed and published, and that a register of patents should be provided for use by the public.

The commissioners, together with all vestiges of the pre-1852 practice, were abolished by the Patents Designs and Trade Marks Act 1883. They were replaced by a Comptroller General, with a staff of examiners, and other officers, responsible to him, serving under the general supervision of the Board of Trade. The board's supervisory responsibilities for patents and designs had been maintained originally by its Commercial Department and, after 1867, by its Railway Department. The 1883 act also transferred responsibility for the registration of designs and trade marks from the patent commissioners to the Patent Office, which until the 1920s was formally known as the Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Office.

A Design Registry, intended to protect designs of patents used in the manufacture of textiles and many other manufactured articles, had been set up by the Board of Trade in 1839, and had been transferred to the patent commissioners in 1875. A Trade Marks Registry, with similar objectives had been established in 1875 as a result of the Trade Marks Act 1875. An office was established at Manchester in 1875 to deal with cotton trade marks, and another in 1908 to deal with designs for printed and woven textiles.

In 1901 the Finance Department of the Board of Trade took over general supervision of the Patent Office, and in 1908 it passed to the Commercial, Labour and Statistical Department. In 1919 the Patent Office and Industrial Property Department was established, which has since performed the advisory and administrative duties formerly performed by other departments. As head of the Department the Comptroller General was an officer of the Board of Trade, but as Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks he was answerable only to the High Court.

The department discharges the functions in relation to copyright acquired by the Board of Trade under the Copyright Act 1911 and subsequently; in 1965 the department was renamed the Patent Office and Industrial Property and Copyright Department. In government reorganisations it has followed the president of the Board of Trade, firstly to the Department of Trade and Industry in 1970, to the Department of Trade in 1974 and to the second Department of Trade and Industry in 1983.

The Comptroller General of patents, designs, and trade marks has important judicial functions in his field. Originally appeals from his decisions lay to the law officers, but the Patents and Designs Act 1932 established a Patents Appeal Tribunal to deal with such cases. The tribunal consisted of a judge nominated by the Lord Chancellor. Further appeal under certain circumstances lay to the Court of Appeal under the Patents Act 1949.

Under the Registered Designs Act 1949 designs were dealt with separately from patents and a Registered Designs Appeal Tribunal was constituted. The jurisdiction of the Patents Appeal Tribunal was replaced by that of the Patents Court under the provisions of the 1977 Patents Act.

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