The UK has one of the best developed and applied IP regimes in the world. Creators and businesses have been able to use that framework to develop exciting and innovative products, designs and content using the latest technology and manufacturing techniques. The Taylor Wessing Global IP Index (GIPI5) ranks the UK third globally, while the 2017 US Chamber of Commerce International IP Index ranks the UK second. This current advantage must not be jeopardised as we seek to develop new trading relationships.
It is vital therefore that the protection and promotion of IP is at the heart of trade policy, ensuring that everything we create in the UK has the potential to achieve its maximum value and that creators are properly rewarded. The opportunities provided by new trade relationships should not threaten the UK’s world leading regime, but rather be used to raise standards in the jurisdictions with which we negotiate. This will not only protect and promote British IP but provide opportunities for creators and rights holders worldwide to benefit socially, culturally and economically in the same way that the UK has.
Principles for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
The Alliance has some high level principles in relation to IP that we believe should be the basis of any FTA.
Provisions within IP Chapters of future FTAs should promote both ratification and adherence to the terms of the International Treaty provisions for recognition and enforcement of copyright, trade mark, design and other intellectual property rights, which provide the foundations for development of the businesses represented by members of the Alliance.
We therefore want the negotiations to encourage national reform where current practice falls short of standards which UK legislation has already recognised are necessary for the effective development of intellectual property laws, including in the digital environment.
(a) defending standards, such as the Three Step Test for defining the scope of exceptions and limitations to copyright against efforts for “watered down” or overly vague descriptions that require litigation to interpret, alongside detrimental costs to businesses. Such defence also means taking into account the huge importance of the UK design sector and the central role that IP rights play in allowing designers to contribute to the UK both culturally and economically.
(b) allowing flexibility for higher levels of protection to be applied, whilst pushing for new standard levels of protection when international norms have already moved beyond minimum levels established under International Treaty provisions (for example on the terms of protection for copyright and building on recent UK changes to registered design rights, recognising the further steps needed to bring parity with the current European system).
(c) promoting recognition at international level of rights such as the Artists’ Resale Right, when International Treaty provisions have yet to be adopted at global level;
(d) making provision for effective enforcement of rights, including in a digital environment through concepts of civil liability for secondary infringement, application of systems of good practice developed between traditional and new platforms, particularly linked to updated provisions for injunctive relief while addressing outmoded aspects of systems for right owners serving notices on platforms covering notice and take down;
(e) sustaining the UK’s trade mark exhaustion regime, ensuring that no trade agreement is inconsistent with or undermines UK’s regional exhaustion approach resulting from current EU status.