UK progresses reforms to unjustified threats law taking into account the future UPC regime


The UK government has today published its response (here) to the Law Commission’s final report (here) on reforming the law relating to unjustified (groundless) threats of IP infringement.  The government accepts the Commission’s recommendations (which included a draft Bill) and intends to implement the reforms by primary legislation, if possible via the special procedure for implementing uncontroversial Law Commission Bills (which would reduce the Parliamentary time required to approve the Bill). The change relating to the introduction of the UPC regime is that the law will extend to European patents (UK) not opted-out of the UPC regime and to Unitary patents. The government’s decision follows responses to questions it posed in a discussion paper published after the Law Commission’s report.  One respondent had raised the issue that unjustified threats of Unitary patents could be brought in the UK courts under the proposal, despite the UPC having exclusive jurisdiction over infringement and validity actions; the government commented that the Law Commission’s report addressed this issue, and stated that the UK court would stay the threats action if issues of validity and infringement arose, although it may take a preliminary view on those issues when considering whether interim relief would be granted.  Apart from the change for the UPC regime, other changes aim to protect retailers, suppliers and customers against unjustified threats and to protect professional advisers making threats on behalf of clients from personal legal action.

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