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Scotland’s future & IP

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125px-Flag_of_Scotland.svgThe Scottish government released its White Paper on Wednesday mapping out Alex Salmond’s vision for an independent Scotland.  The full 670-page report is available here and it details “the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published” (BBC). Whether that’s completely accurate or not I guess only time will tell but a quick skim seems to suggest that it could be summarised as “anything that we’ve got now that’s good, we’ll keep. Everything else will be better.”

Buried deep within the White Paper in the Q&A section of Part 5 are a couple of references to intellectual property.

Question 66 confirms that IP will continue to be protected (yay!). Question 67 then suggests that IP services may be improved by independence.

67. Will independence offer improved intellectual property services?

Yes. Independence will allow Scotland to offer a simpler, cheaper and more business-friendly model than the current UK one which is seen as bureaucratic and expensive, especially for small firms. The UK is one of very few EU countries which does not offer a “second tier”, or “utility” protection scheme which covers the basics of IP protection and is cheaper and quicker to access. Scotland could follow, for example, the German utility model which is more a protection of technical innovations

The utility model idea is an interesting suggestion. The UK does not currently have a utility model, or “petty patent”, system and introducing such a system would provide another IP choice to applicants in instances where a patent or registered design is not available/appropriate.

The Referendum is scheduled for 18 September 2014 with a date of 24 March 2016 for Independence in the event of a Yes vote. Given the sheer number of issues that would need to be sorted out in this period, such a timeframe may be pretty ambitious. EU Membership for an independent Scotland is also pretty much assumed in the White Paper but it would seem that the Spanish prime minister, at least, may have other ideas!

Mark Richardson 28 November 2013

Further materials available via the Scottish Government’s website – link to download page

1 Comment

  1. ipcopydev says:

    Scotland already operates a virtually independent legal system, in which Scottish Courts are well known to grant interim injunctions at the drop of a Tam o’Shanter (English = hat). One wonders if it would be a good thing for Scottish business if second tier IP rights which undergo very low hurdles for determination of validity prior to grant were to benefit from such powerful remedies. This has been a problem in Australia where so-called innovation patents have been used to great effect by foreign rights holders against Australian companies. Inventing an IP WMD for foreign companies to hammer the Scots’ local industry may not actually be one of Alex Salmond’s better ideas.

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