31 March 2023
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The UK government announced 5 years ago its intention to join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership) - a trade bloc in the Indo-Pacific. At that time, there was concern within the UK IP profession that this would require the UK to adopt a twelve month grace period into the Patents Act, which might have been at odds with the European Patent Convention.

Following intense lobbying from the profession, when the accession to the CPTPP was announced today (Friday 31 March 2023), it was confirmed that the parties had agreed a “carve out” for the UK, which would not be required to implement the relevant grace period provisions of the CPTPP until there was “much wider” harmonisation of substantive patent law on this point. According to a Policy Paper published by the UK government, this means when “necessary amendments to the relevant international conventions have been made”. In the meantime, the UK would be obliged, along with its CPTPP partners, to promote the adoption of a grace period in harmonisation discussions, but there would be no time limit on implementation.

The lobbying was led by an excellent team at CIPA (Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys), supported by the IP Federation, FICPI-UK, and IPLA (Intellectual Property Lawyers’ Association), amongst others, and has been the focus of many conversations with the UKIPO and Department for Business and Trade over a sustained period. By joining forces, the UK profession has achieved a great result. With the ongoing discussion of Substantive Patent Law Harmonisation at the EPO and in the Group B+ meetings, we can expect to see a grace period enter into European Patent law at some point in the future. This would bring the UK into alignment with many other jurisdictions where a grace period is present, including the USA.

Robert is a Partner and Patent Attorney at Mewburn Ellis and handles patent work in our chemistry team. Dealing mainly with drafting and prosecuting and advising on global portfolio management and invention capture, he has particular experience in the pharmaceutical chemistry sector. He is also a leading member of our designs team. Robert is a member Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO), and President of FICPI’s Work and Study Commission (CET) in which capacities he meets the European Commission, EPO, EUIPO, WIPO and other patent offices. He represents FICPI-UK on the Marks and Designs Forum (MDF). He regularly speaks at conferences on a variety of topics including design law, entitlement to priority and privilege.

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