Brexit, the UK Government’s real time demonstration of how not to conduct an international negotiation, rumbles on. The last two weeks have seen a “collective” stance on a Brexit plan thrashed out at Chequers, the subsequent resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson who it seems weren’t quite ready to be part of May’s Collective, the visit of the US President who apparently suggested that the UK should sue the EU and, perhaps most tellingly of all, a sign on a broken toilet door in the Commons which not unreasonably asked “If we can’t fix a toilet in six weeks, what are our chances of negotiating Brexit in eight months? Just asking.” (I’m not joking. Picture at the bottom of this post!)
As well as all of the above and in amongst the usual chaos of knife edge votes in the Commons and a former Cabinet Minister asking for a second Referendum (surely if that happens we need best of three?), the UK Government published its White Paper on “The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union”. The White Paper mentions a little bit about IP so let’s dive in.
Paragraphs 38 and 39 of the White Paper mention Geographical Indications (GIs) and para 39 notes that the UK will set up its own GI scheme which will provide “continuous protection for UK GIs in the UK”. The withdrawal agreement of course references GIs in Article 50 and it appears that the UK is planning to enact the legislation needed to provide this right.
Paragraphs 127 and 128 note that there are a number of areas where UK and EU economies are closely linked and one of these areas is intellectual property. The UK therefore proposes in para 128 to explore “options on intellectual property, including participation in the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent system”.
There is also a specific Intellectual Property section in the White Paper in paragraphs 149 through 152. These paragraphs mention the UPC and unitary patent again and state that the “UK will therefore work with other contracting states to make sure the Unified Patent Court Agreement can continue on a firm legal basis”.
So the UK has confirmed its desire to continue with the UPC and unitary patent system and has acknowledged that the UPC Agreement will need some adjustment to accommodate the UK once we’re outside the EU. IPcopy looks forward to hearing more details on this proposal in due course.
Although GIs, the UPC and the unitary patent get a mention there’s no explicit discussion of trade marks, design rights, copyright or any of the other IP issues mentioned in the Withdrawal Agreement. There is however a general statement that “Arrangements on future cooperation on IP would provide important protections for right holders, giving them a confident and secure basis from which to operate in and between the UK and the EU.”
So, the White Paper is somewhat light on details as far as Intellectual Property goes. Still IP does at least get a mention and presumably we’ll be hearing more details in due course, assuming of course that the whole Brexit roadshow doesn’t come off the road in the meantime.
Mark Richardson 19 July 2018