Since agreement was reached in December on "sufficient progress" in Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations (regarding the terms of withdrawal), little news has been heard about the status of EU/UK discussions. Officially, Phase 2 of the talks (governing transitional arrangements and the future relationship) has not yet begun.
According to a report on the usually-reliable Politico website, however, negotiations have continued behind the scenes on various topics which are said to include Intellectual Property rights.
In September last year the European Commission published a position paper setting out its wishlist for transitional arrangements for various European IP rights including designs, trade marks, geographical indications, and supplementary protection certificates. Both the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys welcomed the European position as being broadly aligned with their views. Provided the UK Government adopts a position similar to that being advocated by CIPA and ITMA (and others), intellectual property could potentially be one of the less controversial topics to be dealt with as part of Brexit.
During the Phase 1 talks, the UK and EU negotiators frequently published "joint technical notes" indicating the status of negotiations on various topics and indicating areas of agreement and disagreement. If the Politico report is correct and IP discussions are indeed under way, it is to be hoped that a technical note on these topics will be published soon, as this would be of huge assistance to IP owners - and their legal advisers! - in planning for the future.
Officials from the two sides have been meeting behind closed doors in recent days to clear up a raft of withdrawal issues that weren’t addressed in the December accord. These so-called technical talks — even though they encompass some substantive topics — have covered customs, data protection and intellectual property.