The UK IPO confirmed yesterday that the new Minister responsible for IP is Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. He was the Minister responsible recently for the passage of the Threats Bill in the House of Commons.
In a House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee session yesterday on 'managing intellectual property and technology transfer' (here), Mr Johnson was asked to clarify the statement made by his predecessor, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, that the UK’s decision (here) to proceed with ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement “should not be seen as pre-empting the UK’s objectives or position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU”. Mr Johnson explained that the UPC is not an EU institution and, although it has not yet come into effect, the government believes the UK’s participation is of value to UK businesses and inventors and wants to be there at its creation. His response to questions on participation of non-EU members in the unitary patent and UPC system and on part of the UPC’s central division being in London was, in summary, that these questions will form part of the bigger discussion around the Brexit negotiations.
Assuming that Mr Johnson is successful in guiding the UK's ratification of the UPC through Parliament in the coming weeks, it will be his brother, Mr Boris Johnson, who will formally sign the instrument of ratification, probably in April or May, on behalf of the UK.