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Good news for UK businesses, the UK Government has agreed a deal to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with a well-negotiated exemption.
The CPTPP is a free trade agreement between 11 countries, which reduces trade and investment barriers between members by eliminating tariffs and establishing common rules.
The Agreement includes important provisions relating to the protection and enforcement of patents, trade marks, copyright, trade secrets and geographical indications. This should help to create a more level playing field for businesses, promoting innovation and creativity.
CPTPP Grace Period Exemption for Patents
Within the IP provisions of the CPTPP there is a requirement for a grace period to be established. This is a period of time prior to the filing or priority date of a patent application, during which an inventor can disclose his invention without destroying the novelty of his invention for patenting purposes. The UK Patents Act and the European Patent Convention (“EPC”), to which the UK is a signatory, do not provide for such a grace period.
Agreeing to a grace period as part of the CPTPP would have required amendments to UK and international IP conventions, and this could have delayed or even prevented the UK from joining the CPTPP. The European Patent Office’s recent study suggests that there is little support for a grace period in Europe, so amendment of the EPC to harmonise with the CPTPP seems unlikely at the moment.
It is good news that the Government negotiated an exemption from the grace period requirement, avoiding conflicts with IP agreements and allowing the UK to join the CPTPP. This exemption will apply until such time as there is wider harmonisation on this point and the necessary amendments to the relevant international conventions have been made.
What does CPTPP mean for UK Businesses?
Joining CPTPP will allow UK businesses to gain easier access to a significant trade bloc spanning the Asia Pacific and the Americas. Current CPTPP members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The deal is expected to encourage innovation and has the potential to provide consumers with greater choice.