Some time ago, the UK Government declared that it would bring in an Act to revoke all EU-derived laws, across the board, by the end of the year, except for a few selected laws that would be specially chosen to be retained.
This would have had the effect of purging the majority of EU law from UK statute books in one legal mass extinction event. However this position has been changed last week. The UK Government appears to have worked out that most of the relevant laws would not even have been considered by the end of the year, so that many useful laws would have been revoked, regardless of the consequences. Now, it will only be a specified list of laws that will be revoked at the end of 2023, and the Civil Service will carry on checking the remaining “retained” laws one by one, for the foreseeable future.
Many UK intellectual property laws were amended or replaced by EU laws, so potentially this was of major significance. There is the potential for UK intellectual property law to diverge abruptly away from mainstream EU intellectual property law, producing more uncertainty for businesses.
The Government has just published the current list of laws that will definitely be revoked at the end of the year. The list of EU laws actually being revoked in the short term is quite short.
There seems to be nothing on the current list which is significant in the field of intellectual property and which is going to change.
Further, it must be remembered that much of UK intellectual property law is based upon international treaties and the European Patent Convention. The European Patent Organisation is not an EU body, and so the whole of UK patent law remains substantially unaffected.
UK trade mark and design law has developed more in parallel with EU law, but mainly in ways that were in line with UK thinking. Formally disconnecting this area of UK law from EU law should not need much revision of UK statutes.
Half of the announced revocations are laws that have been superseded in any case, but no-one had bothered to remove them from the statute books. (There was one that was only supposed to apply during the 2012 Olympics…)
Short version – don’t worry about EU-derived intellectual property laws being revoked from UK legislation. There is nothing particularly important that’s on the chopping block for the foreseeable future. We act directly at the EPO for European patents and through our Antwerp office for European trade marks and design protection. In the meantime, UK Patent Attorneys are continuing to register as Professional Representatives at the new Unified Patent Court, which opens for business in June 2023.
Article by Dr Jonathan Banford
Article Published May 17th, 2023