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25 January 2017

UK moves on with Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill

The Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill introduced in May 2016, passed the stage of Second Reading earlier this month. It will now be considered by a Public Bill Committee before it proceeds for Third Reading and amendments if any.

The Bill seeks to amend the existing provisions as regards safeguard against groundless threats in respect of   patents, European patents, trade marks, European Union trade marks, registered designs, design rights and Community designs. One of the main objects of the Bill is preventing the misuse of threats to intimidate or gain an unfair advantage in circumstances where no infringement of an IP right has actually occurred.

The UK Law Commission had made many recommendations including exempting professional advisers in proceedings from personal liability though the (purported) right owner makes unjustified threats and, advocating communication between parties to avoid litigation.

According to the Bill, an unjustified threat is one whereby a reasonable person in the position of a recipient would understand from the communication that a patent (or other IPR) exists and a person intends to bring proceedings (whether in a court in the United Kingdom or elsewhere) against another person for infringement and includes communication to the public or a section of the public.