Trade and

intellectual property

We fully support the UK’s global trade ambitions and welcome trade agreements that strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader in innovation and intellectual property. The Government has said that it will respect the UK’s important, existing international obligations on intellectual property in its trade negotiations. 

We were pleased that the trade agreement with Australia, signed in December, was fully in line with this commitment and welcomed the agreement as a landmark deal that would support the UK economy by encouraging innovation and creativity.

The UK Government has stated that it wishes to join the £8trn Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and accession negotiations are currently in progress.

CIPA has been concerned that there are provisions of the CPTPP which may be inconsistent with the European Patent Convention (EPC). Membership of the EPC is vitally important not just for the UK patent profession, but for innovation generally in the UK and the wider economy.

Throughout the course of 2021, CIPA President Alicia Instone, Chair of our IP Commercialisation Committee, Catriona Hammer, and senior CIPA staff met with Government Ministers and key parliamentarians to brief them on the importance of not inadvertently placing EPC membership at risk. On 1 December we met and briefed Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, who thanked us publicly on Twitter.

We were pleased that the Government made explicit its commitment to the EPC. On p.13 of the Department for International Trade’s document UK Accession to CPTPP: The UK’s Strategic Approach it states

We will ensure that the terms of UK accession to CPTPP are consistent with the UK’s IP interests. This includes not doing anything which increases medicine costs for the NHS or is inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

We made written submissions to the following inquiries:

  • International Agreements Committee inquiry into CPTPP accession
  • International Agreements Committee inquiry into the UK-NZ Agreement in Principle
  • International Trade Committee inquiry into the UK-NZ Agreement in Principle

CIPA’s evidence to the House of Lords’ International Agreements Committee featured in its report UK accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP): Scrutiny of the Government’s Negotiating Objectives, published on 17 November.

As the year ended we were preparing evidence for the House of Commons’ International Trade Committee’s inquiry into CPTPP accession.

Alicia and her team also met the Presidents and senior members of sister patent institutes in CPTPP member states to brief them on why it was also in their interests and the interests of their governments for the UK to remain a member of the EPC.

Antoinette Graves

Intellectual Property Team, Trade Policy Group
Department for International Trade (DIT)

DIT values CIPA’s advice and active support in International Trade Week and in preparing to negotiate IP chapters in the UK’s Free Trade Agreements with Australia, New Zealand and accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This has been, and will continue to be, important in achieving a balanced and effective approach to IP in the countries we negotiate with, providing opportunities for UK businesses to trade across the world with confidence.

Download Annual Report 2021

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