Intellectual property laws are a set of regulations that by necessity are required to continuously adapt in order to remain up to date with technical and legal developments. For many years, the UK has been at the forefront of the latest developments in such laws, a position which can come as a significant benefit. So much so in fact that Williams Powell, a legal services firm which obtains intellectual property rights on behalf of clients, has urged ministers to maintain the UK’s position in this respect in the future.
Writing in The Parliamentary Review, partner at Williams Powell, Robert Jehan [pictured], said: “Our courts and also our Parliament have often been innovators in intellectual property laws, something that should not be forgotten. In the late 1980s the United Kingdom transformed copyright law and many of the concepts of that law change have been adopted by the governments of other countries, particularly in Europe.
“There are continuing challenges, most recently in the film and music industries where copying by illegal downloading results in significant losses to these industries throughout the world. Currently these industries are seeking technical solutions to stem their losses, but ultimately, they need to be protected by enhanced legal provisions. The United Kingdom, with its strong parliamentary mechanisms and strong judiciary, is ideally placed to conceive of and implement updated legal frameworks that could assist these industries and lead to global law changes.”
A significant development in more recent years that has helped the legal services industry keep up with technical and legal developments in intellectual property law has been a closer co-operation between intellectual property courts and patent and trademark professionals, leading in more consistent moves to harmonise laws and practices in many countries across the world.
Highlighting an example of this, Jehan added: “A recent example of this has been the America Invents Act, which brought US patent law more into line with that of Europe and the rest of the world. There are continued attempts to have a Unitary Patent across Europe and a Unified Patent Court in which unitary patents can be litigated.
“The United Kingdom has for a very long time had the enviable position of being at the forefront of developments in intellectual property laws. Our government and supporting legal services should strive to maintain this position as it can be of significant benefit to the United Kingdom, not only now but also in the future.”
While these developments are positive, it cannot be understated that the legal services profession in the field of intellectual property is closely tied to the European Union, meaning that Brexit - which is due to be fully enacted at the end of 2020 - will have consequences. Yet, despite the challenges that will come the sector’s way, the team of partners at Williams Powell is optimistic that the industry is well placed to thrive in the face of change and that the UK government and European Commission will continue to keep consumers at the forefront of their thoughts as the negotiating process begins to reach its conclusion.
Jehan explained: “While Brexit will have consequences, our profession is uniquely positioned to survive and benefit from the changes [it will bring], and with foresight and support we can make the most of the challenges ahead.
“Hopefully our government and the European Commission will not lose sight of the fact that any hard bargain will only harm the very users and consumers they ought to be protecting.”