An update via the Alliance for Intellectual Property
When the UK left the EU, one of the new powers we gained was to decide our own UK IP Exhaustion regime. Exhaustion regimes are important because they set the rules by which Intellectual Property (IP) owners can control the further distribution of their goods (it only relates to physical goods rather than digital content) once they have been sold into a geographical territory. For example, if you sell a DVD in India, depending on the exhaustion regime we have, the seller could prevent it being re-imported into the UK. It therefore also underpins the extent to which parallel trade is allowed.
The UK Intellectual Property Office began a consultation into which Exhaustion regime the UK should consider adopting in 2021. One of the options was to shift to an ‘International Regime’ which would have allowed the free-flow of goods sold internationally to be re-sold in the UK.
For many businesses and sectors, this would have been a huge threat to their business models and with significant different consumer and environmental standards set in different markets, have led to potential consumer harm and significant confusion. We at the Alliance alongside BASE and over 50 other creative industry bodies and companies, out of a total number of 150, responded to the consultation, urging the Government to maintain the current regime.
This week the Government announced that it had decided, for the time being, to do exactly that and make no change. It has decided to look again at the whole basis on how it makes the decision on our future Exhaustion Regime and therefore while there will be more work to do, the fact that so many organisations, including BASE, united with one voice to express their concerns has clearly had a big impact.