IP organisations request UK government action in light of Brexit

January 9, 2018

A group of UK IP organisations has sent a list of requests to the government and the UK Intellectual Property Office that should ensure continuity and certainty of IP law in light of the Brexit. One of their demands is a confirmation that the UK is intending to ratify the UPC Agreement.

The note was sent to the government on the 22th of December and signed by the major players active in the UK IP industry, including IP solicitors, IP barristers, Chartered patent attorneys, Chartered trade mark attorneys and UK IP intensive industry.

The list contains five key areas: Continuation of EU-derived IP rights, Unitary Patent/Unified Patent Court Agreement, Exhaustion of rights, Rights of representation and Mutual recognition of judgments.

And outline of all these areas can be found here: Intellectual property (IP) law and Brexit Summary of main requests for the UK government

Unified Patent Court
When it comes to the UPC, the professionals state that ‘the UPC is one of the most significant developments in IP dispute resolution of recent years.’ According to the note, the UK has already devoted significant financial and human resources to the development of the UPC. The participation of UK judges is considered critical to the UPC.

Therefore, the signees want the government to do the following:

  • confirm that it is the UK’s intention to stay in the UPC, and that the UK is prepared to abide by the terms of the UPC Agreement, following Brexit;

  • work towards the coming into effect of the UPC as soon as reasonably practicable in collaboration with other UPC Member States; and

  • work with other UPC Member States and EU institutions to ensure there are no legal or practical obstacles to UK participation in the UPC and the Unitary Patent, following Brexit, on equal terms with other Member States.

The IP organisations also give a list of objectives the government should adhere to: (i) continuation of the Court in London; (ii) continued involvement of UK national judges; and (iii) continued rights of participation of legal professionals qualified and based in the UK in all parts of the Court’s procedures on the same terms.

Where does the UK stand now?
With the Privy Council close to approving the draft Order needed to ratify the UPC Agreement, the possibility of ratification is near. The UK, however, has not fully stated that it will actually ratify the agreement. Even though the government announced a wish to remain a part of the UPC even after Brexit, it is clear that participation of the UK in the system has become part of Brexit negotiations. The result is that Great Britain is, together with Germany, one of the major delaying factors enabling the start of the UPC. One of the outcomes of the negotiations might be that the division of the UPC Court that was supposed to be hosted by London, will be moved.