The Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.
The aim of the Act is to make life easier for businesses and entrepreneurs. It does this by
clarifying the type of communications which are permitted between parties involved in a dispute over IP infringement
preventing the misuse of threats to intimidate or gain an unfair advantage in circumstances where no infringement of an IP right has actually occurred
providing a clear framework within which businesses and their professional advisors can operate to resolve disputes, including attempting to negotiate a settlement before turning to litigation
In 2012 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) asked the Law Commission to review the existing threats provisions within patent, trade mark and design law. The Law Commission published a Consultation Paper in 2013 and responses showed strong support for retaining protection against unjustified threats and overall support for reform of the existing law.
The consultation exercise was followed by a Law Commission Report in April 2014 which summarised the responses received and made 18 recommendations for reform. The government responded on 26 February 2015, accepting the recommendations (in a few cases with some qualifications), and tasked the Law Commission with drafting a bill. This was published along with the Law Commission final report on 12 October 2015. The government then conducted a public consultation on the draft bill during late 2015, and published its response to that consultation on 28 January 2016.
The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 19 May 2016, and followed the special Parliamentary procedure for Bills which implement Law Commission recommendations.
Debates on all stages of the Act’s passage, and related documents, can be found on the Act’s Parliament page.
Entry into force
The Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act 2017 was given Royal Assent on 27 April 2017. It is now an Act of law. A Commencement Order is required to be made for the Act’s measures to be brought into force. New laws which affect business are typically commenced on a Common Commencement Date (CCD). The next CCD is 1 October 2017.