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number granted, that are allowed to expire at the end of the third year owing to the fifty pounds stamp duty which is then required to be paid. The obstructive element in patents, it is to be observed, will be greatly diminished, if not altogether removed, by making the granting of licenses compulsory. It must not be forgotten, too, that the effect of the examination, to which now for the first time it is proposed to subject all applications for patents, will be to greatly diminish the number granted. It is sometimes urged as an objection to the affording of any facilities for obtaining patents, that they are sometimes made use of for advertising purposes. If such be the case, it is not a serious evil; and it is one which the imposition of heavy stamp duties will have but little effect in preventing. The class of persons who adopt that expensive mode of advertising can much better afford to pay high stamp duties than the generality of inventors. Seeing that the matter is one affecting the prosperity of the country, any additional expense which may be caused by an increased number of applications for patents will not be deemed of much moment, more especially as there is a large surplus income derived from patents. In advocating the lowering of the stamp duties payable in respect of patents, we do not propose to alter the amount of those payable at the end of three and seven years, namely, £50 and £100, because they not only add to the revenue, but, as we think, effect a beneficial weeding, and that too, for the most part, without causing hardship or injustice. By the end of its third year, the value of a patent is in the great majority of cases fully ascertained, and the payment of the £50 stamp duty, if made, works no hardship or injustice on the patentee. But such is far from being the case with respect to the earlier payments. They have to be made at a time when, as regards most inventions, it is impossible to ascertain their real merit and value. The consequence is that the invest. ment of money in obtaining a patent partakes very often of the nature of a speculation. It must not be forgotten, too, that the cost of preparing the specification and other things requisite, in order to obtain a patent, generally amounts to no inconsiderable sum.
The Committee, in their Report, content themselves with a recommendation, “ That the duties payable on patents shall be so adjusted, as to encourage inventors to the utmost to make known their inventions.” It will be found, however, on referring to their Report, that almost all the persons who gave evidence on the subject, were of opinion that the earlier payments should be reduced.
C. E. BRUNSKILL Cooke.
V.—THE PUBLIC RIGHT OF NAVIGATION.
(Continued from the November Number.)
THE next element of the public right of navigation, is the 1 right to moor for the purpose of loading and unloading. This right is clearly, within reasonable limits, essential for the convenience of trade and commerce, and its existence is firmly established by authority. But, of all the rights forming the public right of navigation, this is the one most difficult to deal with, both on account of the vagueness which must necessarily attach to the definition of a right, including within its limits such widely different acts as the loading of a small boat or barge, occupying but a few minutes time, and the loading of large steamers occupying, perhaps, many days, and also on account of the coincidence of great temptation to abuse the right, with great facilities for doing so, to the serious annoyance and inconvenience of the public passing and repassing along the river, and of the riparian proprietors, who cannot always be engaged in litigation to restrain the selfish encroachments, varying, as they must do from day to day, from serious to slight, of persons eager to obliterate, when it can be done with impunity, the boundaries between meuw and tuum.
The right to moor for the purpose of loading and unloading is, without doubt, not locally unlimited. It must be exercised in convenient and reasonable places, having regard to the due exercise of the other public rights over the river. A person, for example, cannot moor his vessel in the centre of the channel along which ships passing and repassing usually sail. That would plainly be an unreasonable place. So a person cannot moor his ship in a mooring-berth, where some other person is in the habit of mooring his ships. It would be unreasonable to fix upon the exact spot which another person is in the habit of using, even although it may not at the moment be actually occupied by him. Theoretically speaking, if that spot were in a part of the river convenient and proper for mooring, each person would have an equal right to moor there, but the exercise of these several rights would be practically impossible. If, in such a case, no public or practical reasons existed why the first occupant should not be left in possession of his usual mooring place, the others finding accommodation in some other place reasonably suitable for their purposes, the solution of the difficulty would probably be, without difficulty, obtained by a sensible verdict of a jury, or a like decision of a judge.
The right to moor must be exercised so as to occupy the portion of the river in which the vessel is moored only for a reasonable time. “To moor a floating storehouse, or vessel, for the receiving and delivery of goods or merchandize in any public river * * * is such a permanent appropriation and exclusive occupation of a public river, and such an obstruc. tion thereof to its free and common use as to be indictable as a public nuisance."* But there could be no objection, in principle, to one person occupying a particular mooring place by a constant succession of ships, so that the portion of the river so occupied, would, in fact, be permanently obstructed. The public benefit, for which the right is created is secured, and the right is not unreasonably exercised, if no single ship takes longer time to load or unload than is reasonable; and it cannot matter, so far as the exercise of the public right is concerned, whether or not all the ships belong to one person.
There are only two parts of a river where a ship can be conveniently moored, namely, in the part between the edge of the usual navigating channel and low water mark, and alongside the banks or wharves. The public right of navigation certainly includes the right to moor in the former part. In the case of the Attorney-General v. Philpott, decided so long ago as 8 Ch. I, an information against certain persons in respect of an alleged purpresture in the Thames, stated “that the defendants had lately encroached upon the soil of the king, and had thereby stopped the course of the river, and rendered it less convenient for shipping and for their mooring in the pool.”+
It is equally certain that a riparian proprietor has a right to moor vessels alongside his wharf, for the purpose of loading and unloading them. But, in doing so, he is not exercising the public right of navigation only. He is exercising two rights, the one his private right of access to and of landing on his wharf, and the other, the public right of navigation, which enables him to justify the mooring of his vessel as against all persons, merely seeking to exercise the right of passage, to whom alone his vessel, when moored, can be a physical obstruction. As regards them, it is a " legal preoccupation ” of that portion of the channel.
* Angell, on Tidal Waters, p. 118. + Cited in the Report of Attorney-General v. Richards, 2 Anst. 603. The "pool" is that part of the river Thames, between the edge of the usual navigating channel and low water mark, which lies between London Bridge and Cuckreld's Point.
But does the public right of navigation give all persons a right to moor their vessels alongside the banks of the river, so as to overlap either wholly or partially, a private wharf, without the consent of the owner of the wharf ? Such a right is primâ facie so unreasonable, and its exercise would be so injurious to riparian owners, and detrimental to the convenient carrying on of trade and commerce on navigable rivers, that either strong and explicit authority would be required to establish its existence as a common law right, or a person claiming it would need to show a paramount necessity and long-established usage, to support it as a right acquired against the injured riparian owner by custom. But there is no single trace of any such right ever having existed, or, indeed, ever having been claimed as part of the public right of navigation, until the decision of the Lords Justices in the case of Lyon v. The Fishmongers Company,* (now reversed by the House of Lords), suggested to people with small water frontages that they need not be very particular as to the size of the vessels they used, because, if they overlapped the adjoining wharf, they would merely be exercising the public right of mooring for the purpose of loading and unloading. “A man,” said Mellish, L.J., “having a mere right of way, the narrowest possible, down to the water edge, has as much right as the owner of the most extensive riparian property to the reasonable use of any portion of the navigable river, for the purpose of loading or unloading goods, or embarking or disembarking passengers.” And, again, “a coal barge in the Thames unloads at a wharf, but it loads from a collier in the pool, and it lies alongside the ship to load in exercise of precisely the same right as when
* L.R. 10 Ch. App. 679. 1 App. Cas. 662.