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Brexit: Labour’s 170 Questions for the Government

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brexit-1481028_1920The Labour Party released a set of 170 Brexit related questions last week to cover each day between 13 October 2016 and the Article 50 notification deadline announced by the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party conference, 31 March 2017.

IPcopy took a quick look at the questions to see whether any were IP themed ones and, if there were any such questions, how far down the list these came.

We found references to the unitary patent system and also to geographical indications.

Geographical Indications

  1. How will the government go about protecting the brand status of the 77 UK products currently covered by the EU’s registration of products under the protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication, and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed schemes?

Assuming these questions were actually asked in order, one day at a time, this question would be scheduled for  26 January 2017. A list of the 77 products referred to in this question can be found here.

As noted on the European Commission website, geographical indications are part of the intellectual property rights of the European Union and provide a way of assuring consumers that registered products are genuine and not imitations that are looking to benefit from the name and reputation of the original.

Unified Patent Court

  1. Does the government intend to proceed with ratification of the EU agreement to establish a Unified Patent Court, in the agreement’s present form; and if not, what steps is the government taking to negotiate an alternative agreement to which it would be willing to sign up?

  1. If the Unified Patent Court (UPC) goes ahead, will the Human Necessities seat of its Central Division continue to be located in London, as prescribed in Article 7(2) of the UPC agreement.

Again, assuming these questions were asked in order, the above two questions would be scheduled for 30 and 31 January 2017.

Following the comments made by the Prime Minister at the Conservative conference (see “Did Theresa May just end UK participation in the UPC?”) it would seem that the UK’s continued participation in the UPC would be at odds with the PM’s comments about the CJEU. In order to continue with the unitary patent project it would seem that the UK would first have to “walk back” (at least as far as patents are concerned) its comments about the CJEU. At present, with the PM’s seeming preference for a “Hard Brexit”, this seems to be  unlikely to happen but time will tell. If the Government choose to answer these questions it would certainly bring some clarity to the future of the UPC (at least as far as the UK is concerned) .

Missing from the 170 questions is anything relating to how European trade marks or Registered Community Designs are to be handled post-Brexit. The questions appear roughly two thirds of the way through the list which perhaps indicates their relative level of importance to the powers that be…

Mark Richardson 18 October 2016

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