The Government's promised white paper on Brexit was
published today. Here, we look at the document itself and consider
it alongside the Government's earlier decision to proceed with
ratification of the UPC Agreement.
Following the result of the referendum held on 23 June 2016,
there was major uncertainty surrounding the UK's participation
in the forthcoming Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, there
was even speculation that without the UK as a cornerstone the
project would fail to launch altogether. Then on 28 November 2016
the UK Government announced its intention to proceed with the
process of ratification, with the then minister for IP, Baroness
Neville-Rolfe, commenting with respect to Brexit that "We
want it [the future settlement with the EU] to give
British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in
the Single Market - and let European businesses do the same in the
UK." This suggests that the Government wishes to preserve
the option of full participation in the UPC from an eventual
position outside of the EU, in order to ensure that the UK remains
an attractive venue for innovation in the years to come. The
question of the ultimate supremacy of EU law over the operation of
the Court seems to have been kicked into the long grass for the
time being, but will inevitably need to be addressed in the
Whilst there is no commitment in the white paper to anything
specific with regards to IP, it generally echoes the minister's
sentiment on the UPC. The white paper sets out the Government's
position on trade and scientific collaboration, suggesting that it
may be willing to continue common IP initiatives where they are in
the interest of the UK and, in particular, UK exporters.
The white paper makes it clear that the Government wishes to
keep trade as free as possible post-Brexit, while acknowledging
that the EU already provides consistent regulations in areas like
competition and the mutual recognition of goods to aid this. This
will undoubtedly be of some comfort to market participants seeking
commercial certainty in the post-referendum turbulence. The white
paper also mentions the Government's desire to ensure the
continuity and growth of international scientific
1.The trade mark shall not entitle the proprietor to prohibit its use in relation to goods which have been put on the market in the Community under that trade mark by the proprietor or with his consent.
The UK government has not yet invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (this is likely to happen by the end of March), and the UK's actual exit from the European Union is at least two years away.
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