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Intellectual Property Status Quo Preserved as the UK Joins CPTPP

Intellectual Property Status Quo Preserved as the UK Joins CPTPP

Industry news News 04/04/2023

It was announced on 31 March 2023 that the UK has reached an agreement in principle to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) whose current members include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru and Brunei.

The CPTPP is a trade bloc that is populated by around half a billion people with a joint gross domestic product (GDP) of £9 trillion in 2021. It will result in the removal of tariffs for many UK exports and the UK Government hopes that joining CPTPP will support jobs and create opportunities for UK businesses.

Importantly for the IP profession in the UK, the Agreement includes provisions which protect patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets and geographical indications. There was a concern that the CPTPP is incompatible with the UK’s membership of the European Patent Office since the CPTPP requires its members to have a provision for a grace period for patents. A grace period is a defined amount of time that an inventor can disclose their invention without the disclosure being considered novelty-destroying prior art. The European Patent Office does not currently recognise grace periods although it has recently held a consultation on the possibility of amending the European Patents Convention to incorporate the possibility of grace periods.

However, the UK’s Agreement to accede to the CPTPP includes important provisions which protect the UK’s membership of the European Patent Office. Therefore, in summary, it is business as usual as far as European patents are concerned for the UK.

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