Culture wars and IP law

crazyWhen will the craziness end? Not content with coming out of the European Union, a strand of the Conservative Party seems obsessed with playing ideological games rather than promoting the economic well-being of UK citizens. This is potentially disastrous for our system of IP laws.

Back in the Autumn of 2017, IP Draughts led on the writing of a note from the IP professions to the UK government on Brexit and IP. We made five recommendations:

  1. Continue EU-derived IP rights, either by negotiation with the EU or the introduction of new UK legislation.
  2. Participation in the Unitary Patent.
  3. Establish new rules on exhaustion of rights.
  4. Continued rights of representation of IP professionals at EU courts etc.
  5. Mutual recognition of judgments between UK and EU.

Readers will be aware of the UK government’s rejection, or lack of progress, on these points. At the time the note was written, it was not obvious to the authors just how ideological the Conservative government would be in managing post-Brexit relations with the EU. At that time, the government had decided to ratify the UPC, though it later changed its mind.

On reflection, it seems to be not just an ideological objection. There seems to be a complete lack of interest in solid achievement for the benefit of the economy and the financial wellbeing of UK citizens; solid achievement doesn’t lead to positive headlines in the Daily Mail.

So, we have Dominic Raab back as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, and more focused on repealing human rights legislation than saving the imperilled legal aid system.

And we have Jacob Rees-Mogg, steering a Parliamentary Bill that would automatically repeal all UK legislation that was inherited from the EU.

The UK Intellectual Property Office has identified 67 pieces of IP-related EU legislation that would be wiped out if the Bill becomes law, and if the government doesn’t introduce replacement legislation. Oh, don’t be silly, IP Draughts can hear some of you say. Of course, common sense would prevail, and this legislation would be retained. It would be economically disastrous to do otherwise.

Part of IP Draughts agrees, particularly when he hears the latest Chancellor of the Exchequer say positive things about the importance of R&D to the UK economy. But it wasn’t so long ago that Boris Johnson said “f*** business”. And he has no confidence that head-bangers like Rees-Mogg and Raab care about making the system work.

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