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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Should UK opt for Rome?

The UK's Ministry of Justice issued yesterday a press release, 'Rome I - should the UK opt in?', and announced yet another consultation process.

Right: the British position on opting into Rome I - note the straight face and stiff upper lip ...

By way of background, the 1980 Rome Convention on the law applicable to contractual relations was implemented into UK law by the Contracts (Applicable Law) Act 1990. In December 2005 the European Commission released the original Rome I Regulation [for most recent text see here], which the UK chose not to opt into. Subsequent negotiations on Rome I ended with political agreement among Member States in December 2007: it will be adopted at the next meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (some time in the next few months) and the main provisions of the Regulation will come into force 18 months later.

According to the press release:

"... The Rome I proposal will provide clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries [the IPKat says, this obviously applies to all European cross-border IP licences, coexistence agreements, negotiated dispute settlements etc], allowing cross border trade to continue with confidence.

When the European Commission first announced the proposals in 2005, the UK Government took the unusual step of opting out of the proposals, as they would not have been in the interests of UK businesses. However, following intense negotiations, a substantially revised and hugely improved version has now been agreed [just goes to show how important it is to observe the principle known as "enlightened self-interest" ...]. ...."
Not wishing to burden British readers with having to read about the distress they might have suffered if the British had opted for Rome I immediately, the press release gives no details as to what so troubled them about the original version and why the current version is better.

Rome II, the Regulation on the applicable law in non-contractual obligations [including passing off, it seems, but NOT -- it seems -- rights of privacy and publicity or the registration of company names], can be read here

The IPKat feels there's more to this story than meets the eye. If any reader has been involved in the issues relating to the late UK adoption of Rome I, particularly from an IP perspective, the Kats will all be thrilled to hear about it. Please post comments below or email the IPKat here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rome II covers infringement of intellectual property generally and not just passing off. It will present interesting problems if the Community Patent Court is set up and litigates European patents, rather than Community patents.

Jeremy said...

Quite right. When I wrote "includes", I'd already taken the statutory rights for granted. I should have made it clear first time.

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