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Theresa the Brexit Slayer?

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brexit-1481028_1920IPcopy has wondered for a while how the UK’s somewhat surprising announcement last November that we would continue preparations for ratifying the UPC Agreement would play out if the news got wider attention in the media. Despite the Government’s insistence that the UPC is an international court rather than an EU institution I couldn’t see this argument playing well with the readership of certain portions of the press who are champing at the bit for the moment we can retake control of our country.

Any lingering questions as to the likely form of the tabloid take on this matter were put to rest when the Daily Express published an article in February which tackled the “Secret plan to tie Britain to EU”. [“Secret” in this context presumably meaning “hidden in plain sight”. The UPC and unitary patent process has hardly been conducted behind closed doors…]

The Express article references an Early Day Motion (EDM) from Douglas Carswell (UKIP) in which it is suggested that the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the UPC should not be ratified. This EDM seems to have been a bit of a sideshow (number of signatories other than Carswell = 0) but the comments from Carswell that continuing with the UPC system “has the  potential to drive a huge stake into the heart of Brexit” did at least invoke some interesting imagery. IPcopy is sure that Carswell didn’t mean to suggest that Brexit is a vampire poised to sink its fangs into the UK….but perhaps there’s scope to revive the Buffy universe with a new spin-off show, Theresa the Brexit Slayer.

The Express article also highlighted a recent meeting at CIPA in which Kevin Mooney, Laura Starrs and Tony Rollins provided an update on the UPC ratification progress (see IPcopy report here) and in which Kevin Mooney joked that he hoped the Daily Express didn’t find out about UPC ratification – oops! (The video footage from the CIPA meeting appears at the top of the Express article. It can also be found here on Youtube.)

The Express article to IPcopy’s mind is notable for two reasons – one, to see how well (or badly) the UPC process is understood in the general media and, two, the utterly depressing state of the comments section under the article (abandon hope, all ye who enter here).

Once More With Feeling

Last week the subject came up again when a far better article popped up online which highlighted the apparent inconsistency between the Prime Minister’s promise that we would leave the jurisdiction of the CJEU and our potential continued participation in the Unified Patent Court. This article is pretty accurate in its summary of the current patent system and the unitary patent and UPC. It also indicates how references to the CJEU might actually look in practice under the UPC system. IPcopy suggests it is worth reading the article in full.

The UK is now less than one month away from triggering Article 50 (assuming the Prime Minister sticks to her somewhat arbitrary deadline) and it will be interesting to see if the initiation of this process throws any more light on what the UK intends to do with the unitary patent system post-Brexit. Allowing the system to proceed by completing our ratification procedure may win us some goodwill from continental Europe but the uncertainty (for users) over the UK’s continued participation in the scheme is less than ideal.

The progress of the UK’s ratification process can be followed in our earlier post here. It is noted that despite the suggestion at the CIPA meeting that things would be progressing quickly enough for matters to be completed before the Article 50 notification is triggered, no further progress appears to be evident on the UK parliament website. IPcopy will keep you informed of any further movement on the subject.

Mark Richardson 7 March 2017


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