Legislation published for UK to join The Hague Agreement – and why did we not know who the IP Minister is?1
January 24, 2018 by IPAlchemist
I wrote yesterday that I tend to blog when I have a thought that I want to get out of my mind. Well, today I have two thoughts.
First, The Designs (International Registration of Industrial Designs) Order 2018 (S.I 2018 No. 23) has just been published (thanks to Peter Groves @IPso_Jure for tweeting this). This is the final legislation that is required for the UK to join the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement, which is an international system for the registration of designs (similar to the Madrid system for trade marks). The UK was already effectively a member by virtue of the EU’s membership, and so UK entities could already file applications under the Hague system – it is a “closed system” so only entities based in member jurisdictions can use it. However, membership via the EU only allowed a Community Design to be designated, not a UK national design. Shortly, it will be possible to designate a UK national design as well as, or instead of, a Community Design.
The legal power for this legislation to be passed, and for the UK to sign up individually to the international design registration system, derives from section 8(1) of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 , and it is a bit of a shame that the Government has taken so long to enact the necessary Statutory Instrument. Given the uncertainty about the scope of Community Designs in the event of Brexit, the ability to designate a UK national right in addition to an EU right will be welcomed by many users of the system.
The UK now needs to deposit its instrument of ratification, which I suppose will happen quite quickly, and then (under Article 28(3) of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement) three months later the UK will become a member of the system.
My second thought is that the legislation is dated 11 January 2018 and signed by Sam Gyimah. Now, I have been moaning (mostly on Twitter) since the government reshuffle on 8/9 January about the lack of clarity over who would be the next Minister for Intellectual Property (a position previously taken by Jo Johnson). Until today, the .gov.uk website described Sam Gyimah as “Minister for Higher Education” (only) and stated “Ministerial responsibilities will be confirmed in due course” – see the screenshots below. Today, this has changed to “Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation” and intellectual property has been specifically listed as one of the responsibilities. (Thanks to @ipfederation for bringing this to my attention)
It is bad enough that it should take two weeks to set out where the ministerial responsibility for intellectual property lies. But the fact that this legislation was signed by Sam Gyimah on 11 January shows that he has in fact occupied this position the whole time. It also seems that those who attended the Alliance for IP reception on 17 January were told of the appointment. Why on earth should it take a further week to announce it properly?