UK Confirms Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement
On 16 July 2023, the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) took another step towards completion as the Business and Trade Secretary formally signed the agreement in New Zealand.
The CPTPP is a free-trade trade agreement between 11 countries around the Pacific Rim: Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei and Peru. Together, these countries make up over 13% of global GDP, and have a combined population of nearly 500 million. By reducing barriers to trade and investment and establishing common rules and standards, participation in the CPTPP will bring the UK closer to the members of the CPTPP than was possible when the UK was a member of the European Union.
In Chapter 18 of the CPTPP, minimum standards are set for the provision of intellectual property (IP) rights, with the aim of, inter alia, contributing to “the promotion of technical innovation”, the “transfer and dissemination of technology”. The UK already satisfies the vast majority of these standards. A difference between the standards set out in the CPTPP and UK Patent law and the European Patent Convention is that the CPTPP requires participating countries to provide a 12-month “grace period”, whereby public disclosures made by an applicant in the 12 months preceding the filing date of a patent application are disregarded for the purposes of novelty and inventive step (Art. 18.38 CPTPP). However, it was agreed earlier this year that the requirement for such a grace period will not apply to the UK, and the signing of the agreement on 16th July confirms this. The European Patent Convention will continue to apply to the UK without change and there is no plan to introduce a 12 month grace period in the UK.