back to article Brexit Britain changes its mind, says non, nein, no to Europe's unified patent court – potentially sealing its fate

The UK government will now not join Europe’s new Unified Patent Court (UPC) despite promising only last year that it would. There has been no official announcement, though an organization focused on the UPC, the European Patent Litigators Association (EPLIT), said in a statement it had “learned that the UK government intends …

  1. Dinanziame

    I think they pick all their cues based on WWSD — What Would Singapore Do?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      I think it's more likely that this is just another step in laying the ground for the Brexit negotiations. Johnson is setting up as many points of disagreement as he can do in order to give himself some negotiating leverage, regardless of whether or not any specific point would harm the UK by itself. He's raising the stakes, and it all comes down to whether or not the EU thinks he's bluffing, that he is actually willing to abandon all cooperation and let the UK live with a No-Deal Brexit.

      So, does anyone think that in his political career he's demonstrated sufficient integrity and strength of purpose that he would stay on and deal with the consequences of a No-Deal Brexit until the next election in 2024, or is he more likely to resign in 2021 and say that he's resigning because he failed to get the cake-and-eat-it deal he promised?

      1. tfb Silver badge

        Since his entire reason for existing is to become world king he won't resign. Rather he will use the three years following no deal to convince people that it was all the fault of those foreign europeans, many of them suspiciously dusky.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge
          FAIL

          Promises, promises...

          "The UK government will now not join Europe’s new Unified Patent Court (UPC) despite promising only last year that it would."

          Just another political declaration from Johnson regime #1 that is being abandoned by Johnson regime #2. No suprise at all, unfortunately. All those moderate promises made before the election were lies. Barnier will not give one millimetre in the negotiations, in the face of such deceptive behaviour. If you made any bets on a decent FTA with the EU, you've already lost your money.

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Promises, promises...

            "Just another political declaration from Johnson regime #1 that is being abandoned by Johnson regime #2"

            Theresa May's regime, not Johnson's. Try reading the article, where this was made clear.

            "All those moderate promises made before the election were lies"

            Which policies have been dropped? Any examples? No?

            "Barnier will not give one millimetre in the negotiations, in the face of such deceptive behaviour"

            Barnier is increasing his demands. In the last 3 months he has demanded access to UK fishing waters just to start negotiations, plus the Elgin Marbles. He is the one being deceptive.

            Take your blinders off and stop trolling.

            1. Champ

              Re: Promises, promises...

              > Barnier is increasing his demands. In the last 3 months he has demanded access to UK fishing waters just to start negotiations, plus the Elgin Marbles.

              Really? Barnier has demanded the Elgin Marbles? Care to cite a reference for that?

              1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

                Re: Promises, promises...

                "Brussels appeared to suggest that the Elgin Marbles could be the price of any future trade deal with Britain. A leaked draft of Brussels’ negotiation mandate had included a stipulation that Britain should ‘return unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin."

                Greece is still pushing for this, and has the support of other EU nations.

                Source:

                https://metro.co.uk/2020/02/18/government-rules-returning-greek-marbles-part-eu-trade-talks-12263867/

                1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                  Re: Promises, promises...

                  If its in The Metro, it must be true. Wait, what??

                  1. emacca

                    Re: Promises, promises...

                    So just because the metro is a free paper and doesn't suit your point of view then its not valid? Please tell me what publications are valid? Only left papers?

                    Well here... this should please you!

                    https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/leaked-draft-of-eu-paper-talks-stirs-parthenon-marbles-dispute

                  2. emacca

                    Re: Promises, promises...

                    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/23/the-guardian-view-on-the-parthenon-marbles-not-just-a-brexit-sideshow

                    1. IT GNU

                      Re: Promises, promises...

                      And so it has started.

                      I was telling everyone back in 2016, that whilst we are in the EU, the union will not get involved, but once we leave, they will stand up for claims of one member state, against another non-member state.

                      Anyone who is surprised by this development, is a deluded fool.

                      1. codejunky Silver badge

                        Re: Promises, promises...

                        @IT GNU

                        "I was telling everyone back in 2016, that whilst we are in the EU, the union will not get involved, but once we leave, they will stand up for claims of one member state, against another non-member state."

                        I have been saying since before the referendum how little their opinion really matters once we leave.

                2. Champ

                  Re: Promises, promises...

                  So, not Barnier, then. Not even Brussels, in fact.

                  Just Greece maintaining its entirely justifiable position of wanting back its stuff that the british stole.

  2. Norman Nescio

    For a contrasting view...

    Roy Schestowitz's website, Techrights has been saying the UPC has been dead for years, and has been charting the behaviour of UPC supporters for a long period. It would be safe to say his opinion of the UPC (and the European Patent Office) is not uniformly positive.

    I don't know enough to say whether his criticisms are well-founded (they appear to be to my inexpert eye), but he does give a different view on things. An El Reg journalist might like to use it as a contrast to some of the press releases issued by other interested parties.

    http://techrights.org/index.php?s=UPC

    http://techrights.org/index.php?s=EPO

    NN

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: For a contrasting view...

      If he's the usual FOSS loon against patents just because everything must be free (but he likes to be paid for his work, of course), it's of very little interest. Just the tone of the articles show he's just an activist.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: For a contrasting view...

        Perhaps you would like to demonstrate the value of patents by pointing at one granted in the last decade that is actually novel, non-obvious, for patentable subject matter and earned a profit for the inventor.

        1. Pat Att

          Re: For a contrasting view...

          How about this one:

          EP0170375

          It earned its owner, and the inventor, millions each.

          1. TallGuy

            Re: For a contrasting view...

            He asked for a novel patent earning money in the last decade (that's newer than 2010), not a patent applied for in 1985 and granted in 1990 (and renewed in 2005).

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: For a contrasting view...

              I'd suggest the best place to look would be at pharmaceutical patents, since some of the world's biggest pharma companies are UK-based. These last 20 years, so I'd suggest that if the likes of GSK haven't been churning out new ones, they'd be losing money, which they most definitely are not.

              IIRC, they are largely based on manufacturing processes for chemical compounds, and not the compound themselves, so do meet the criterion for "novel" as well.

              Without getting into the discussion about price-gouging of on-patent pharmaceuticals, I will point out that the drug discovery process is difficult, expensive, and littered with blind-alleys, so I do think this sort of patent has merit.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: For a contrasting view...

                >Without getting into the discussion about price-gouging of on-patent pharmaceuticals, I will point out that the drug discovery process is difficult, expensive, and littered with blind-alleys, so I do think this sort of patent has merit.

                Indeed, a tits-up stage III failure can cost £1bn. However I do take issue with the areas a lot of pharms companies are researching into, namely lifestyle conditions that you have to take a pill for the rest of your life to manage rather than cures. A classic example in the past was the discovery of Helicobacter pylori and a course of antibiotics would rid you of ulcers rather than having to use Zantac every day, the dirty tricks used against the original researchers in an attempt to discredit them was deplorable by the makers of Zantac.

                We need new antibiotics and antivirals as a matter of urgency but cures are not in big pharma's interest, just keep taking the expensive tablets for life and we can bank the cash.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: For a contrasting view...

                  This is a very good point.

                  I think it boils down to the fact that, unless you have large-scale state-funded pharmaceutical research, then it will be the remit of private enterprise.

                  Corporations have no moral compass, they exist merely to find the greatest profits and economic growth. Say what you like about capitalism, but this is its biggest flaw; the fact that it is fundamentally amoral, and the reason why you need regulation; also the reason why governments that want to get rid of "red tape" usually want to do so because they are in the pay of (or simply are) those who would profit from deregulation, and not for the public good.

                  So there are two pretty clear routes to solving the problems of big-pharma - publicly funded, public interest pharmaceutical research (and by all means, this can be for-profit, if that profit goes back into the public coffers), or more and more regulations to rein in the worst behaviours, such as punitive taxation on "lifestyle" drugs, and / or tax breaks for public-interest research.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: For a contrasting view...

                    "Corporations have no moral compass, they exist merely to find the greatest profits"

                    Which is directly contrary to Adam Smith's original statements and is an attitude that came along with the rise of neoliberalism and corporatism over the last 45 years.

                    Don't confuse "capitalism" with "corporatism" or "mercantilism" - the latter two are what capitalism unchecked will grow into, however they already existed BEFORE capitalism - see things like the East India Company and the way the British Empire operated up until the end of the 19th century.

                    "we" tossed out mercantilism/corporatism in the 1905-1935 period around the world because it had proved to be so damaging (GIlded ages, etc etc). The forces behind those things have been trying their utmost to return to those days because a privileged few make out like bandits whilst nobody else matters.

                    1. niio

                      Re: For a contrasting view...

                      Mercantilism/Corporatism were damaging because they worked by restricting competition, usually by corrupting government to limit antitrust activity. It was this monopolistic aspect that led to abuse, whether by corporations or by government.

                      Capitalism depends on competition to limit power, and therefore abuse. It makes a virtue of profit seeking by allowing companies to compete in any market. If one pharma refuses to sell a cure expecting instead to sell a temporary remedy, there is nothing preventing another pharma from pursuing that profit by making its own cure.

                      Patents provide motivation, but their value expires. They are monopolies and there are abuses, like minor change renewals and patents on small changes made to publicly funded research. Laws and/or enforcement may need to change, but that doesn't mean the system needs to be dumped.

                      Capitalism and market economies have created unprecedentedly broad prosperity. This decade is the first time in history that there are more middle and upper income people in the world than lower and poverty level income. Market reforms in China alone have lifted 850m people out of poverty. It is a little too easy to say look at all these current problems while forgetting what life was like for people a hundred years ago.

                      1. eldakka Silver badge

                        Re: For a contrasting view...

                        Capitalism depends on competition to limit power, and therefore abuse. It makes a virtue of profit seeking by allowing companies to compete in any market. If one pharma refuses to sell a cure expecting instead to sell a temporary remedy, there is nothing preventing another pharma from pursuing that profit by making its own cure.

                        Well there is, patents.

                        If a company discovers a drug and patents it, but it'll cure something that they get more money from treating, then they may very well decide not to commercialise their patent, or charge such excessive fees for it - far beyond the costs - so that very few can afford it. And while that patent lasts, no other company can compete with them. That's the whole point of a patent.

                        There have been recent (as in the last 2 or 3 years) documented - it's being investigated for antitrust currently in the US - cases of pharmaceutical companies paying other companies to not produce drugs that have gone out of patent so that the original patent holder, the one paying the 'bribe', can continue on with their monopoly.

                  2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                    Re: For a contrasting view...

                    Anyone want to bet what the overall effect of said regs would be?

                    I hate problems with no decent solutions...

                    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                      Re: For a contrasting view...

                      Indeed. Writing good regulations is very difficult, because people will almost always find a way around them.

                      This is why I prefer the other solution (publicly funded and publicly owned research).

                      It strikes me as odd that we acknowledge that public health is a common good, so have the publicly owned NHS*, but fail to recognise that the medicines the NHS uses are part of that public good.

                      *for now, just about - creeping privatisation of the NHS is a topic for another discussion.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: For a contrasting view...

                  "the discovery of Helicobacter pylori and a course of antibiotics would rid you of ulcers rather than having to use Zantac every day, the dirty tricks used against the original researchers in an attempt to discredit them was deplorable by the makers of Zantac."

                  Particularly when you consider that it would have cost Zantac only a couple of percent of sales anyway.

                  (Disclosure: I suffer from one of the myriad long-term gut issues that _isn't_ H.pylori and have to use variations on proton pump inhibitors daily - there are a bunch of them, mostly generic and Zantac is only one such brand on the market)

                  It's telling to note that this kind of "eliminate the competition/cure" mentality comes out of the USA or from older "empire" UK companies which have mostly ceased to be relevant as that mindset has prevented them from adapting to change.

              2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

                Re: pharmaceuticals

                I agree that pharmaceutical research deserves funding but funding them patents patents is an abomination. The idea of patents is to reward inventors for their effort (and sharing the research results with others) by granting a monopoly so that they can use a shortage to drive up the price. Patents directly cause a shortage of pharmaceuticals so replacing them with an alterlative system of funding will benefit everyone but lawyers.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: pharmaceuticals

                  Without the patent system, no company is going to sink hundreds of millions of quid into the drug discovery process, stage I-III clinical trials et al only for $generic_manufacturer to turn around and start knocking the pills out at 2% over cost, without any of the sunk costs. You can't even have the protections fo a "trade secret" because the testing, safety trials and approval process will have to clearly publish what is in those pills.

                  The patent system isn't great, but, to murder a Churchill quote, like democracy, it's worst system we have apart from all the others that have been tried.

                  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: pharmaceuticals

                    "The patent system isn't great, but, to murder a Churchill quote, like democracy, it's worst system we have apart from all the others that have been tried."

                    AS ENVISAGED AND ORIGINALLY CREATED that might have been the case.

                    Over the last 40 years, progressive twisting of IP law has turned it and copyright into weaponisable items that _inhibit_ innovation and development - and more latterly are being used to quell open discussions too.

                    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                      Re: pharmaceuticals

                      I don't disagree that they don't work well. The equation you have to consider is whether they work better than the alternatives we have, which as I understand it, are no patents system, or an attempt to reform it. The first is obviously worse, the second is not obviously achievable - although I'd not rule it out.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: pharmaceuticals

                  "The idea of patents is to reward inventors for their effort (and sharing the research results with others) by granting a monopoly so that they can use a shortage to drive up the price. "

                  Actually that's NOT the case and a company using a patent in this manner can (and frequently did) have it stripped, or forced to license in fair/equitable manners - which is what all the hallaballoo around 3G/4G/5G patent licensing is about when so many patents and crosspatent licensing is involved - some trolls keep on trying to submarine stuff into standards (RAMBUS) and then lay claim to it outside the FRAND frameworks.

                  Patents/Copyrights are SUPPOSED to ensure that an inventor/author gets a fair reward for the work done and protection for a SHORT period in exchange for putting that work into public domain. The fact that they've been weaponised as a way of keeping things OUT of public domain for extended periods shows how badly warped the system has become.

                  300-odd years ago, King James abolished the entire Royal Exclusive Patent system because of exactly the same kinds of abuses being seen now. It was only reinstated some years later when the abusers were nailed down (sometimes literally)

                  1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
                    Devil

                    Re: pharmaceuticals

                    So what you're saying is: anyone found to running a patent troll company should be crucified? Pray continue...

              3. eldakka Silver badge

                Re: For a contrasting view...

                I'd suggest the best place to look would be at pharmaceutical patents, since some of the world's biggest pharma companies are UK-based.

                How much of that did the inventors, that is, the natural persons, the researchers, scientists, the university staff where most of the actual novel research occurred, get out of those? I'm sure the corporations and the executives at those corporations made a killing, but the actual people who did the actual inventive work?

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: For a contrasting view...

                  This is another good point. I suspect the situation of profit-sharing is much worse now than it was some years ago.

                  I know at least one person who still gets patent dividends for work they did (IIRC for HP) in the '70s and '80s. The problem he has is trying to cash a US cheque in the UK; for the amounts involved, it's often just not worth it.

        2. 2bee

          Re: For a contrasting view...

          Your underlying premise: there will never be anything new invented because we have not in the past arbitrary 10 years. I fear you have not thought this through dear sir.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: For a contrasting view...

            @"Your underlying premise" the premise is not that nothing new will be invented rather why would anyone bother when you they patent existing tech without having to do any of the expensive research.

            The patent system as it currently stands( and especially in the US) does not do enough to confirm the novelty of new patents before issue and hence they are simply a method to obtain unwarranted market control and money for solicitors.

            For patents to be fixed the first thing they they need to do is change the system so that any proven lack of novelty can instantly invalidate a new patent and without the need to go to court. That way new patents will be written with a much tighter scope so as to limit the patent to only that which is known to be novel and solely developed by the new patent holder. The patent system also needs to be centralised and equally open to all whilst standing apart for local legal systems, this to prevent the existing situation where some country's promote their own over outsiders to gain unfair monopolies on other's work and forcing the actual inventors to go to court in the country that screwed them over.

            Whilst all the above is reasonable you can guaranty that the above with never be enacted because since early on patents have been used not to protect inventors but to make invention ownership about who already has the most money. Until this situation is fixed then patents are never going to be fair, reasonable or about promoting innovation, they will instead continue to keep the inventors down whilst making the non-inventors richer

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: For a contrasting view...

              "The patent system as it currently stands( and especially in the US)"

              One of the particular problems with the US "patent system" is that you can patent both "innovation" and "trade dress"

              In the rest of the world the latter is "trademarking" and a registered trademark - which you have to USE in order to defend, and is only granted for a particular field of business (and if you don't defend it, you lose it)

              The US way is wide open to abuse and is frequently used that way because trade dress patents are conflated with innovation ones.

              And that's QUITE apart from the USPTO's well documented issues - which boil down to examiners being told to "pass everything" as well as being graded based on how many applications they process/approve - meaning a diligent examiner ends up being rated "poor" and fired.

            2. TDog

              Re: For a contrasting view...

              As I understand it the capacity of patent granting agencies to check for prior research or previous public disclosure is severely limited in time and money. So why not turn the system around? If you apply for a patent then you should be required to identify prior research, public disclosure and explain why your patent is not affected by these events. In simple terms the onus is on you to prove originality. This should be easily challengeable.

              * If this is something included in the patent it should be the requirement of the challenger to prove why it is not covered by the patent. Use the method below with the presumption that the patent is valid.

              * If it is not covered then there should be a simple hearing to establish the likelihood of a successful challenge. No more than 3 hours per side to provide evidence; no more than 2 witnesses per side, no more than 2 advocates per side. If you can't do it in that time it is usually legal sophistry. Some of these will be wrong, but not many and no justice is perfect.

              * If the hearing states there may be a case then go to a full hearing, BUT - no more than 3 hours per side, no more than 2 witnesses and no more than 2 advocates. If you or your team can't cope with this, tough shit. Cut the prices, cut the processes. If you can't say it in 3 hours you are bullshitting. Oh and the challenger pays the legal costs under any circumstances. They had an opportunity to fight the patent when it was registered and did not; thus it is only right that that they should pay the re-introduction costs. And these costs to be flat rate at an agreed rate by the hour (no more than 5 days costs per advocate of which a maximum of 2 exist).

              I don't think this is either perfect or comfortable to the legal profession. I think it would reduce costs, concentrate minds, and make for quite a lot of fun in reading the transcripts of the law courts.

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: For a contrasting view...

          It seems you think the same way as Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of US patent office in 1899, who believed that everything that could be invented had already been invented.

        4. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge
          Joke

          Re: For a contrasting view...

          " ... one granted in the last decade that is actually novel, non-obvious, for patentable subject matter and earned a profit for the inventor."

          Rounded corners on portable telephone handsets.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For a contrasting view...

        >If he's the usual FOSS loon against patents

        You can thank these FOSS loons in trying to get stupid patents chalked off such as rounded corners or sloping toilets that were marketed 100 years ago but someone is claiming is a new idea....

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-50835604

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: For a contrasting view...

          "You can thank these FOSS loons in trying to get stupid patents chalked off "

          Yup.

          And those FOSS loons actually USE copyright to prevent IP theft.

          GPL being a classic example - you can use GPL stuff, you can sell it, BUT you MUST provide the source code and if you modify the original, you don't get to change the copyright and hide the origins whilst making a fortune out of it.

          For those who don't mind there's BSD licensing - but bear in mind that a lot of people (like me) switched to GPL because we were tired of our work being stolen and used unattributed. It's particularly galling when you get demands to "fix" something written 20 years ago that a vendor has subsumed into a product put out under "closed source" monikers and has been making $$$ out of, with no expectation of being paid to do so.

          Anecdotally: One company told me that using my stuff saved them US$83million in one 6 month period the late 1990s - I suggested they toss something my way as thanks because my equipment was falling apart, but their accountants were having none of that. It's a regular story.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For a contrasting view...

      It's had a rather troubled history, from our very own Reg......

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/10/staff_takes_epo_to_human_rights_court/

  3. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Hmm. Signalling?

    The article's excellently written (nice one, Kieren), with the exception at the end that shooting-it-now instead of letting it drag out is declaimed as pure ideology.

    Most people who've done bulk-project/-portfolio/-org work wouldn't have thought of that, leaning hard towards it just being much safer/commonsense to kill something dead as soon as it's guaranteed dead. Loose ends have a bad habit of snarling up real stuff later.

    But now that you've put the politics idea in my head...

    <stroking chin thoughtfully> It could well be that this IS a political move but in the much larger strategic game. Brexit in large. And the ridiculous "negotiation" approach taken by the EU.

    It could well be Boris&Co taking the opportunity for a costless signal to that other venue that Hard Decisions WILL Be Taken & Timely. Framing and improving the negotiation basis for the larger matter; pre-puncturing part of their posturing, saving time and hassle.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm. Signalling?

      Negotiation 101: If you do not like the deal and have at least one good card card, walk out.

      Negotiation 102: If you have all the good cards, stand firm, let the other side walk out, and wait for the return.

      Where is the UK's good card ? This sounds like Airbus 2.0, when Thatcher dumped Airbus for a US deal of hot air, losing 100 000 jobs and a UK-based production line.

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: Hmm. Signalling?

        ERRATUM: a UK-based ASSEMBLY line.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hmm. Signalling?

        Negotiation 103: If your cards consist of a bunch of used bus tickets and a couple of receipts from Ladies of Negotiable Virtue (the guild of seamstresses) then attempting to bluff is a particularly stupid idea - especially when everyone else is playing CHESS

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Hmm. Signalling?

      much safer/commonsense to kill something dead

      That's fine if you have some alternative to fall back on - and that alternative is better. I have yet to be convinced that smashing something to pieces and passing the buck to other people to build something better is as brilliant a universal policy as our new overlords seem to think. If it were, they should just release the nukes now.

      Actually, given Dom now has access to an actual bunker and there's a potential viral pandemic, that might not be so fantastic: here's his opportunity to rebuild humanity from a carefully self-selected group of superior beings - in their own minds.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hmm. Signalling?

        "here's his opportunity to rebuild humanity from a carefully self-selected group of superior beings - in their own minds."

        Reading the last chapter of STARK is recommended

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

    Yep, well, it feels like that is going to take a lot of time.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

      I don't think so. I think the uncertainty over Brexit will be pretty much solved by June. I could be reading this wrong of course, but I just don't think there's going to be any large scale deal done at this point. Not until political leaderships have changed. Both sides have done too much to piss the other side off. The EU side couldn't resist continually prodding at May until they'd "won" the negotiation. Coming out with a deal that was so obviously one-sided that even if she could have got it through Parliament, a later government was almost bound to repudiate it. Plus they did their best to undermine her credibilty - only to act all surprised when she no longer had the political capital to push through the deal.

      Also May was surprisingly careful in her language. Given some of the shit she took, particularly in some of the almost certainly made up leaks from quite a high level in the Commission - I was surprised she didn't hit back a bit more. And I think Johnson has taken some lessons from that (even if they're the wrong lessons), which are that trying to get a deal at any price (because you think no deal will be worse) means you'll be offered less. And also that not fighting the PR war means you get crucified in your own press and so lose the ability to govern anyway. Hence he's now going for the least ambitious agreement, in order to try and get something achieved.

      The problem with fighting the PR war of course is that you're then giving the other side's politicians less room to compromise, because they also don't want to look weak in negotiations. But that's a game the EU definitely started deliberately with the supposed leaks about May "begging for a deal" and the demands for a €100 billion payment before they'd even start negotiations. Which was bound to poison the atmosphere - and now they're repeating the same mistake with all the rhetoric about how there can be no free trade agreement like they've offered to many other countries, because reasons. Even though the two sides aren't actually that far apart on some of the "level playing field" stuff - but they're destroying their own ability to compromise by being so strident before talks have even begun - while also making it harder for the other side to do so.

      I think the EU have become obsessed with being seen to "win". Which is why we had three failed Greek bail-outs. And they made the Greek government grovel for the last one, in a completely unacceptable way. It's also what happened in the Cypriot bail-out. And I think Johnson has decided that it's not worth completely bending all his attention on getting a last minute deal a few days/weeks after the December deadline has passed. So he's going to walk away while it's still early enough in his government that he's got the political capital to be able to. And of course try and blame it on the EU. Then both sides will have too much political capital invested - so there'll be no new trade deal done until Macron, Merkel and Johnson are all retired.

      A little noticed detail from Gove's statement to Parliament last week was what convinced me of this. He talked about setting a June deadline, after which if there was insufficient progress the government would concentrate of planning for there being no deal. The fact he set it as a deadline was pure trolling. Having a go at the EU for what they did to May with the timetabling of the exit talks and refusing to start until money had been sorted out, and then refusing to start talks on future trade until the withdrawal agreement was agreed - even though the Irish backstop would have been completely pointless if they'd been able to make a customs deal first. But I also think they mean it - because if you believe talks are going to fail anyway - then it's politically better that you control it - and can try to blame the other side on your own timetable.

      I think there's a deal to be done, just nobody statesmanlike enough to get it. And to be fair to May - I thnk she genuinely believed that no-deal would be awful and that the EU wouldn't offer better - so it was her job to get what deal she could even if it destroyed her career and party. So I've a bit of sympathy with her. And even though I don't like Johnson, I think he's the negotiating partner the EU governments fucking deserve for the way they collectively behaved towards May.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

        I think there will be a "deal" in June to kick the can a bit further down the road.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

          I think there will be a "deal" in June to kick the can a bit further down the road.

          Unlikely. Dictator BoJo and his disaster capitalist friends have absolutely no intention of anything other than crashing out with no deal and they are already trying to lay the blame for this on the EU, and the Irish, and remainers, and anybody else who can see unicorn farts for what they are. They are already back tracking on all the promises they made in their election propaganda and manifesto (which aren't remotely legally binding of course), they are already back tracking on the legal framework that they signed into law before this and they have clearly indicated that they have no interest in human rights, employee rights, product quality and safety, the environment and anything else that stands in the way of making a quick bit of cash for some people.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

            Nick Ryan,

            We can't crash out without a deal. We left. Just over a month ago and with a deal in place. There can't be a no deal Brexit anymore, as Brexit has already happened.

            Will we exit the transition period with a new trade deal? Almost certainly I think we will. But it'll be something very minor - not an ambitious all-sector free trade agreement. There isn't time to negotiate that unless both sides were quite close on what they wanted, not even if we and the EU agreed to another year's extension to December 2021. But we could have started negotiating that in 2017, had the EU been serious about it - rather than trying to split the negotiations up into sequenced chunks and thus try and "win" by imposing deadlines at awkward times. That was a choice they made, not the UK.

            As for dictator BoJo? Grow up. When he calls off the next election, then you can call him a dictator - and everyone will agree with you. Until that point, or it looks like we're even remotely likely to reach that point, you just sound like you're being silly.

            1. ExampleOne

              Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

              Assuming the deal doesn’t fall apart due to UK intransigence over the NI backstop they agreed.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

              @"When he calls off the next election", you mean suspends democracy? like proroguing parliament for instance?> he has been there and done that already and you still voted him in.

              I could think of another chap from recent history who acted in a similar way, you know getting into power via racial intolerance but mention here would promote claims of Godwins law, though it must be said that other chap was very popular with a certain kind of supporter at the start of his leadership and afterwards claimed they didn't.

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

                What proroguing Parliament so that there would be a Queen's speech after the usual break for the party conference season. Meaning that Parliament would be suspended for 4 extra days than normal. Oh fetch the smelling salts! The shock!

                It's almost like people were using obscure Parliamentary procedures to try and get an advantage in a constitutional crisis...

                We had an election. The Conservatives won. We're stuck with them for five years, so long as they can command Parliament. There'll be an election in 4-5 years time as normal. They may well win it, with a reduced majority - or maybe not. It's unprecedented for the party in power to grow their vote and number of seats so much, after so long in power. But then it's unprecented for the opposition to stick with such an unpopular leader.

                Our system has been called an elective dictatorship before, for a reason. It can be very depressing if you're sitting on the wrong end of a large majority - because the government has quite extensive powers to do stuff you don't like. Any Conservative can tell you that having to put up with the insufferably smug and over-bearing New Labour administration - and anybody who lived through 1983-88 on the Labour side has equally sad memories of their time in the political wilderness. The answer is not to piss the electorate off so much that they hand the other side a landslide.

                Johnson isn't even close to Donald Trump, let alone your silly allusion to Hitler. Johnson is part of the "metropolitan liberal elite", he's just been seen as hideously right wing because he disagrees with the consensus on the EU. Supposedly he called himself, "a Brexity Hezza" in a cabinet meeting. And I heard Heseltine (on the left wing of the Conservative Party) agree, in an interview for Radio 4. Saying that they were usually in agreement on economic and social policy.

                Johnson is a gobshite - and worse than many politicians at saying what they think people want to hear. But these childish statements that he's about to overturn a few hundred years of democracy, are quite frankly ludicrous. We have an unwritten (except Erskine May, the Ministerial Code, the Human Rights Act etc.) constitution - this means we have minor constitutional crises all the time. Leaving the EU was quite a major one. Pretending it's the end of democracy is silly. Stop it.

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

                "very popular with a certain kind of supporter at the start of his leadership and afterwards claimed they didn't."

                Indeed, only this time there are better records and it's a lot harder for memories to be "wiped".

                Those who wish to scuttle back under their rocks in future may find the cavities they came out of have already been filled with quick drying cement and the spotlight on their own statments/activities are getting brighter.

            3. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

              " There can't be a no deal Brexit anymore,"

              "Brexit" has happened - kind of. At the moment everything is proceeding on the basis that it hasn't until a deal has been made, or until 31 Jan 2021

              Blowhard Johnson has a very long history of lies, fabrications and going back on his "word" which has been nipping at his heels for decades - one of the things to remember about career con artists who keep upping the stakes to keep their heads above water is that they always end up being tripped up by their own fabrications in the end.

      2. Killing Time

        Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

        ‘I think there's a deal to be done, just nobody statesmanlike enough to get it. ‘

        Sadly statesmanship doesn't factor into the style of dealmaking Dom and the Tory right wing think they can impose. They appear to favour the language of a knifefight all the while paying occasional lipservice to our ‘friends on the continent’.

        No one did more damage to May than her own party and their internal machinations which put personal power above all, including the UK’s interest ( see Northern Ireland).

        It’s deeply concerning that in our particular democracy an unelected or non royal wields so much influence and power. A classically educated person with links to Russia, ( like that has gone swimmingly before), who appears to be attempting to take control of policy by dictating which political advisors will be allowed within the government framework.

        What could possibly go wrong?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

          Killing Time,

          Negotiation is a two-way street. The EU are now negotiating with Boris Johnson because they repeatedly and continuously shat on Theresa May. She was the one being restrained and careful in her language - they were the ones doing the megaphone diplomacy. Obviously there were Tory backbenchers making rude comments from the sidelines, but in general her government was reasonably disciplined as to it's message - at least for the first 18 months.

          May offered a deal with level-playing-field terms in exchange for a limited tarriff/quota free trade deal. This was the so-called multiple trade baskets deal - which meant close alignement retained for areas of complex joint supply chains and less but some access to us into the market for services. It got round the Northern Ireland problem by having the kind of zero border infrastructure and checking scheme that Barnier at the time said was "literally impossible". And then they agreed it with Johnson in October last year. The EU have since admitted they didn't even do studies of this deal before rejecting it. It's like the sectoral deals that the EU has already agreed with Switzerland - which is why May selected it as a model. They rejected it.

          So May suggested the so-called Chequers deal. Which split her cabinet. But again solved the Northern Ireland problem by basing a deal on the EU's existing deal that they'd already agreed with Turkey. So we would be a partial member of the customs union - but have much less freedom to trade in services. The EU rejected this. They didn't say what they'd prefer in its place, simply telling May to go and think again and offer them something else they might like better. While also saying that there was always the worse option of the free trade deal like Canada - if NI alone stayed in the Single Market.

          So Johnson said, OK, we'll take the Canada deal on offer. We'll agree a deal where Northern Ireland stays in both the Single Market and the UK market - with processes yet to be agreed to make this possible. But with the Northern Ireland assembly able to withdraw at 2 years' notice - and NI able to benefit from UK trade deals.

          And now the EU are saying that no, the Canada deal was never really on offer. When we said that we didn't quite mean it, for "reasons". Even though NI is now permanently in an arrangement similar to the famous backstop - it's just that now it's not permanent - and the NI agreement is totally not nailed down because the EU refused to negotiate on it until literally the last month - and then agreed something that's going to be impossible to implement in the year left of the transition period.

          So the UK government has offered to take 3 different versions of what the EU has agreed with other third parties, in descending order of closeness of relationship - Switzerland, then Turkey and now Canada. And each time the EU has said no, given few reasons or alternatives and acted as if they've been insulted by the very suggestion!

          And now the EU, who openly laughed at the non legally binding political declaration to the Withdrawal Agreement, are saying we must stick to that political declaration. The thing they stressed noisily and repeatedly was non-binding when they tried to use it to reassure May on the Norther Ireland backstop she couldn't get through Parliament. Well now the fucking chickens are coming home to roost aren't they! Now it's the EU who are demanding that we should do a new custom deal and that the UK can't select the off-the-peg deals the EU have already done with others. Despite the fact that basing their offers on stuff the EU have already agreed with others was the basis of May's negotiating strategy!

          So no, I'm no fan of Johnson. He's a mouthy git, and negotiation needs level-headed people who guard their words. But hey! The fucking EU haven't been adhering to that, and being sensible and moderate destroyed May's political career. So why don't they expect the UK government to learn from the way they've behaved and do the same?

          Statesmanship is often required on both sides, because both sides are under considerably political pressure. But May's government bent over backwards to try and accommodate the demands of the EU - even when they didn't actually make any. They simply rejected all offers she made and tried to make out that it was only them that were being grown-up and sensible.

          Well now they reap the consequences. Because now even a shallow trade deal that's in both our interests looks almost impossible. Even though the UK are ready to agree it. And remember it's us who have a £90bn trade deficit in goods - and we're not even asking for much access for our services exports to them in exchange. They're already being offered a good deal for them, because for us the cost of avoiding disruption is worth doing that deal.

          Even now a deal could happen. If we agreed as much level-playing-field as the EU has put into it's deals with Canada or Japan. But if they insist on us taking their regulations within out market, and their courts to enforce it and us having to comply with new laws they haven't yet written - then of course we're going to say no! Given our laws and standards are currently the same, a system that costs us in trade advantages to change stuff, if they believe the changes to be reductions in standards is perfectly reasonable - but the problem is they don't like the sectoral agreements they've already made with Switzerland that work like that - and would like to replace them with one overall deal. Which the Swiss won't agree.

          It's a two way street. And any attempt to say that it's just the UK that are being unreasonable is bollocks of the highest order. I agree negotiating with Johnson is hard - would you trust him? But they just destroyed the political career of the trustworthy Prime Minister they had to deal with by being totally unreasonable. So tough shit!

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Megaphone

            Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

            The thing is, the Good Friday Agreement is based on the idea that people who want a united Ireland can pretend they already live in one, and for the most part, nothing will happen to disabuse them of that notion. In other words, anything you can do in a nearby city, you can still do if that nearby city happens to be on the other side of a very invisible border.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

              The thing often forgotten about the Good Friday Agreement is that it's supposed to be symmetrical. So it offers closer ties to Ireland and cross community (and cross-border) institutions. But it also has to protect the border with the rest of the UK. Trying to pretend that putting up a border between the rest of the UK and NI is fine, while one between NI and Ireland is bad - is utterly ludicrous. In order to protect peace, both communities had to be reassured. And the EU deliberately forgot this in order to pursue a negotiating advantage.

              Johnson sailed close to the wind with the agreement he made, but by agreeing that NI would be in the UK market and (to some extent) the EU Single Market we've created a fudge that could bridge the negotiating gulf. If the EU continue to insist that "they won" and that all compromise must be on the UK side - then the process will break down and we'll have to negotiate something else. Or a majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly will vote to leave the agreement.

              Compromise is a two way street. We voted to leave the EU, and that causes problems. We should therefore have to do more of the compromising. But not all of it.

              I'm sure the EU don't like what they signed up to in October any more than Johnson did. But that's tough shit. You can't always get what you want. There is no perfection in the Single Market as it exists, and a bit more realism and a bit less childish rhetoric is needed from both sides.

          2. Killing Time

            Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

            I ain't Spartacus,

            Granted that the EU have not been exemplary in this, but we set the tone. If not May then the background yapping of Farage and the ERG with their rhetoric where we would just walk away from our commitments unless we got our way amongst other diplomatic and stately declarations.

            It's a divorce, like it or not and emotion plays into it. Don't know what your experience in that department is but 9 times out of 10 it gets messy. From a negotiation point of view I can well see why the EU would not want us to dictate terms based on agreements they have with others, it sets a precedent for any others wanting to leave. Their goal is to keep the EU together and if that means making an example of us then so be it.

            Expect to see the same tactic from BoJo if the Scots get pissed off enough to try to jump as well.

            That is of course, if DC lets him.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

              Killing Time,

              Granted that the EU have not been exemplary in this, but we set the tone. If not May then the background yapping of Farage and the ERG

              So what you're saying is that May is to blame for the comments of Farage and the ERG. One from an opposition part and one lot who she obviously didn't control or she might still be Prime Minister. But the EU aren't responsible from the comments of Barnier, Macron, Tusk and that great troller in chief of the EU Parliament Guy Verhofstadt. Funny thing, he was PM when I lived in Belgium, and just like any other normal politician. And also a sensible voice in normal EU politics, but for some weird reason he took to trolling the tabloids in Blighty when he became an MEP - and did quite a bit of it as the EP's Brexit co-ordinator. Even though in internal EU discussions he was one of the more moderate voices suggesting the EU should create an Association Agreement for the UK - as part of trying to hav some sort of Associate Membership for countries around the EU that they want to have close relationships with but not invite in (Turkey, Ukraine, etc).

              Also, it isn't a divorce. It's international negotiations. It only becomes a divorce if people choose to treat it as one. Particularly as the EU were negotiating with people in the UK who voted remain. They're oinly having to negotiate with the leave campaigners now, because they destroyed the government of remainers who were reluctantly implementing leave because they thought it was their duty to do so. We would have a much closer relationship with the EU already, if they'd offered May the same amount of compromise they offered Johnson. As my long post above points out - the UK government have offered closer relationships with the EU that they thought respected the EU's red lines - the EU rejected all of them, and more importantly didn't publicly offer alternatives. They just said no. The result is we might not now even end up with a simple free trade deal - which almost everyone says they want.

              Divorce is personal. It's about love. Leaving the EU is politics. Yes people get passionate about politics. But it's a different level of emotion - and governments employ professional diplomats and negotiators to give them distance, advice and time to think. My friend who got divorced, went to meidation last year. On my advice too, nobody else had suggested it, which I'm quite proud of (even though it's the most trivial of things). Because they agreed a financial settlement in one meeting, that they'd failed to do in 6 months - and they're able to be better than civil to each other now there's no financial fight ongoing.

              1. Killing Time

                Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

                I ain't Spartacus,

                I am saying that we, as a nation set the tone. The talks between the UK and the EU did not happen in a vacuum, they happened to a media conveyed background of noise from the ERG emboldened by May's disastrous general election decision and subsequent weakened political hold over the party. The EU were fully aware of her position and probably exploited it to some degree to gain advantage, as any good negotiators would do. I would expect our negotiations team to do the same.

                The fact that the EU turned down the UK's proposals and offered no alternatives is a negotiation strategy in itself. It's one which can be and is often implemented by the dominant party, after all, its not them trying to leave the existing agreement. There are no friends in negotiation, particularly when the doomsday scenario of us walking away has stupidly been publicly floated even before the negotiations started.

                I stand by the divorce analogy, divorce definitely isn't about love, though more often than not, the process results in the complete opposite! The legal divorce process is about dissolution of a legal contract between two people, provision for dependents and division of shared assets. This pretty much sums up where we are with respect to the EU and where we are going.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

            "Negotiation is a two-way street. The EU are now negotiating with Boris Johnson because they repeatedly and continuously shat on Theresa May."

            Nope, the approach they're taking with Johnson and his ilk is _exactly_ the same one they took with May. They've been remarkably consistent on their position since 2016 and with good reason - They're playing chess whilst the UK conservatives have been trying to play poker.

            It's hard to bluff when what you thought were your few good "cards" get up and cross the table. The UK position has effectively trashed what remains of its manufacturing industry, will gut the financial one and the proposed trading arrangements will result in farming being uneconomic across the country.

            One example: Brighton's single largest employer is the American Express call centre. It's had its staff on notice to be ready to move EU-side since the week after the referendum - and as the vast majority are EU citizens (language requirements) so there's no issue in them jumping the ditch.

            There are similar cases being reported up and down the country with companies relocating head offices or new facilities to EU-land - and as for Nissan - despite the recent "leaks", the more pragnmatic view is that they just put $150 million into enhancing the Spanish production lines without laying a finger on UK-side, so you can see where they're going to go if they don't pull back to Japan entirely now the new trade agreements with the EU mean they don't get import tariffs for Japanese-made cars anymore (Honda closed their plant. Toyota's been building a huge setup in Romania for the last decade and component makers are all moving out.... once they go they take remaining assembly lines with them). Even Rolls Royce has been investing heavily in new Gas Turbine engine production facilities in Germany and it wouldn't take a great leap of the imagination for Short Brothers/Bombardier/Airbus to build new facilities to the south of the NI border, easily justifiable given the age and state of the existing buildings.

            When you factor in that a dash over 70% of the Exchequer's net tax income (as in Tax AND NI) goes straight out the revolving door again in state pensions or pensioner vote bribes (fuel allowances, bus passes, free tv licences, etc) it's no surprise to see that there are cutbacks in such things already as tax income is already diving - and set to go down further.

            About 12% goes out in "welfare" but the vast majority of that goes to keeping the working poor heads' above water with only 1-2% going in unemployment or sickness benefits - which means gutting those would result in a major crisis and result in companies crashing across the country like dominos as they can only stay in business due to those undeclared state subsidies (it would result in the working poor becoming the unemployed poor - with an increase in overall numbers - and governments can easily find out that welfare isn't to keep people from starving, it's to prevent them from uprising and murdering the rich - with the miltary, police and civil service pledging alligance to Queen and country, not the "government", they'll find that any attempts to repeat Peterloo won't happen as unlawful orders would be refused or crosschecked with the REAL head of the armed forces)

            Those of us who took out UK citizenship and have multiple nationalities are already well protected - we can check out any time we want. It's the buggers who don't that are going to have problems.

            Don't forget that any dealing with the USA has been predicated on NOT breaching the Good Friday agreement.

            And then there's the utterly looney CANZUK proposals - officials in the other three countries were laughing until they cried - they stopped when they realised the Brits were actually serious - then collapsed in a heap laughing even louder.

            (Getting support from fringe right wing parties in the other countries is NOT a ringing endorsement, merely a stamp of approval from anti-immigration types who are actually "anti- brownskinned people immigrating")

          4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: "clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

            "... they just destroyed the political career of the trustworthy Prime Minister they had to deal with..."

            I'm completely bemused by the positioning of "Theresa May" and "trustworthy* in the same sentence, unless you meant she could be trusted in the same way as a pissed-off cobra!

  5. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    The lawyers will be fine.

    Instead of the UPC the UK will probably follow the US Patent methodology where anything can be patented (ideas, designs, art, etc.) with no burden of proof and completely ignoring any prior art or even the slightest inkling of common sense, and all disputes are sorted out in court at great expense. That way the lawyers will be able to afford Ferrari's and 2nd homes in St Tropez and only the rich/corporate will be able to afford to win. Cynical? Me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The lawyers will be fine.

      Sorry, but I can't let your first sentence pass without comment.

      Ideas are patentable.

      Designs are not patentable. These fall under the IP of Registered Designs in the UK. The U.S. calls these Design Patents. They are a completely different beastie than invention patents. The Apple "rounded corners" was a design patent, but many people confuse the two. It's as wrong as banging on about Javascript when people are talking about Java, to use an analogy which may be more familiar to readers here.

      Art is not patentable. It falls under the IP of copyright.

      The U.S. has certainly confused copyright and patents with the issue of IP protection for software. Mostly software is considered to be copyrighted (the GPL is a copyright licence after all), but in the U.S. it can be patented. This does appear, as you highlight, to mainly be for the benefit of lawyers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The lawyers will be fine.

        I'm inclined to think that it isn't exactly correct that "ideas" are patentable.

        One cannot, for example, simply patent the idea of "turning air into gold". Any numerous people could have this idea, and one cannot protect against them "copying" your thoughts.

        However, if you have a mechanism, process, or device for "turning air into gold" that is sufficiently different from any other - *that* would be patentable.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: The lawyers will be fine.

          Yeah, you can't patent ideas, mathematical or chemical formulae, or at least in most countries, genes: it always has to be something physical.

        2. The Nazz Silver badge

          Re: The lawyers will be fine.

          Does Gordon Brown hold the patent for turning Gold into hot air?

      2. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: The lawyers will be fine.

        Pointing out what's legal in theory is fine.

        Now, in practice, the bigger money wins all too often. That should be clear by now.

        Sure if it's ridiculously obvious, the "right thing" will be done.

        On the other hand, a good patent lawyer can often blur things enough to easily thwart the spirit of the law.

        One could argue that the reality of two classifications - spirit and letter - are what feed lots of legal beagles.

        To paraphrase a well known politician when put on the spot - it depends on what the definition of design is.

    2. Old Tom

      Re: The lawyers will be fine.

      Except that the UK remains in the EPC regardless of whether or not it remains party to the UPC.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ideology over commonsense

    but this is what caused brexit in the first place, non? So arguably, with every new brexit-related decision, UK gov just follows the population's mandate, fulfills the Will of the People, etc, etc. That is, keeps diggin' and singing Rule Britannia, rule the waves...

    p.s. we bought lots of gold from Russians though, which was, apparently, a good move. And getting better as the price soars. Not that it makes a huge difference but... every little helps.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: ideology over commonsense

      @AC

      Is it ideology over common sense to leave an ideological political block that seems to lack common sense? Or maybe it is conflicting ideology of holding onto what is left of a country vs the ideology of consuming different cultures into one federalist union? Maybe its common sense to leave a block who should also apply common sense of understanding the desire to be loosely coupled with its trading neighbours?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: ideology over commonsense

        "Is it ideology over common sense to leave an ideological political block that seems to lack common sense?"

        The CORE value of the EU, common market and its predecessors is to put an end to 2000+ years of relentless warfare across the continent by getting everyone to play nice together and avoiding the mistakes of the 1870-1914 sucession of interlocking defence treaties that resulted in the assassination of a minor Austrian archduke of no real importance by an anarchist of even less importance causing a bunch of things to click into place and setting in chain events that killed upwards of 6 million people over the next 4 years

        This is the longest period _IN RECORDED HISTORY_ that there hasn't been a war of some kind underway in Western Europe. By that metric it's doing very well for itself - and the UK - whose entire political history as a country not part of Europe has revolved around keeping everybody else fighting each other and always being on the side of the largest alliance.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: ideology over commonsense

          @Alan Brown

          "The CORE value of the EU, common market and its predecessors is to put an end to 2000+ years of relentless warfare across the continent"

          They dont seem to be doing very well. Wrecking economies and pissing off Russia being the obvious. And the EU has only existed since 1993.

          "This is the longest period _IN RECORDED HISTORY_ that there hasn't been a war of some kind underway in Western Europe"

          Most of which without the EU.

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: ideology over commonsense

            Sorry, had to downvote that. Alan Brown wrote, and you even quoted "and its predecessors". In that case you are back to the 50ed

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: ideology over commonsense

              @Stork

              "Sorry, had to downvote that. Alan Brown wrote, and you even quoted "and its predecessors". In that case you are back to the 50ed"

              I understand. My point is that the predecessors are not the EU. So claiming a huge success for the EU (which I point out is not such a success in that regard) is outright wrong. It can be attributed maybe to its predecessors but that difference is important.

              1. Stork Silver badge

                Re: ideology over commonsense

                And here we are at some of the differences between the founder members and for example UK and Denmark. In the latter countries EEC/EU was sold as a practical trade arrangement, for Germany, France and I think Benelux (not sure about Italy) it was much more important than that.

                I am Danish; in 1986 the then Danish PM (in connection with a referendum) stated that "the Union is dead as a rock". In 1989 I did a 4 month industrial placement in Germany and realised he lied. The ever closer union from the Treaty of Rome (1957) was taken seriously, and for that reason EU was seen as the natural continuation and update of this - an update of the paperwork for the same basic idea, but not fundamentally separate. And for that reason I don't think the focus of EEC vs EU is correct.

                What a lot of Brits (and Danes) don't / didn't understand is how crucial it was for the Germans and the French to prevent war at almost any cost - a lot of German cities have hardly anything left from before 45*), and France and Netherlands had famine (which is why the CAP had so much support). All had national humiliation, and all this made "never again" very strong. EEC/EU was seen as an important part in this. Also, Mitterand had been in the French Resistance and Helmut Kohl was marked by loosing a brother in WWII

                I can happily accept the Soviet Union might have been more important for peace in Western Europe (a common enemy is useful), but a long period of rising prosperity was very useful too - end EEC/EU helped that IMHO. The later errors with the Euro is another story.

                *) Yes, I know Coventry and the blitz. Compare to Hamburg, Freiburg, Dresden, Berlin, Ruhr, ...

        2. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

          Re: ideology over commonsense

          And for most of that period, the absence of war in Western Europe was due to the overt threat of war with the Soviet Block, and the potential for nuclear Mutually Assured Destruction.

          If you want to claim peace in Europe since 1990 as a success for the EEC/EC/EU, then maybe.

          Peace in Europe (such as it was) between 1945 and 1990 is down to the USA and Soviet Union.

  7. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

    "....smacks of ideology over commonsense"

    That applies to every uk.gov decision these days.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "....smacks of ideology over commonsense"

      To quote his Morrisness ideology is for idiots. And no shortage of those in parliament or Downing St!

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "....smacks of ideology over commonsense"

      That applies to every uk.gov decision these days.

      And even more so to every EU one.

      Got a problem? No worries, "more Europe" will fix it. Just keep applying "more Europe", never mind if it isn't helping, it must do, eventually.

  8. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Popcorn time

    The UK Government on one side and hundreds of patent lawyers on the other. It will drag out for generations and I really don't care who loses.

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: Popcorn time

      Taxpayers will as we'll foot the bill.

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Popcorn time

        I'm not in the UK.

  9. Andy 73

    Brexit Filter

    I'm a little confused. After years of critical reporting of the mess going on at the EPO, and the lengthy delays over UPC, suddenly El Reg has decided it's the best idea evah, and killing it is an ideological choice?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Brexit Filter

      Kind of sums up lots of people's opinion on all things EU related.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brexit Filter

        Kind of sums up lots of people's opinion on all things EU related.

        The EPO isn't an EU institution, it has 38 members, so obviously some of them are not EU members.

  10. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Participating in a court that applies EU law and bound by the CJEU [Court of Justice of the European Union] is inconsistent with our aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation.”

    It would seem membership of the UN and following International Law is also inconsistent with aims of becoming a genuinely independent self-governing nation.

    Even following WTO rules.

    It makes me wonder and worry just what would make fundamentalist brexiteers happy. They all seem to want to take us back to when it was absolute chaos and every man for himself.

    I had always thought someone would have to drop The Big One (TM) to achieve that; never realised one could simply vote to have it.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I can only think of one nation that comes close to that "utopian ideal" - the DPRK...

      The end-game seems to be to either become a pariah state, or the lackey of another (for the personal profit of those nominally in charge). I'm still trying to work out if it's Russia, or the US, although it's arguable that both are controlled by the same bunch of far-right nutters.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        hoxha of Albania no longer with us.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I think there's a lack of trust in the ECJ. Obviously it's also a political thing - the tabloids don't like policies they approve of being over-ruled by courts from their own country, let alone nasty foreign ones.

      But it's also a trust issue. For example at Maastricht the UK negotiated an opt-out from the Social Chapter. Later signed up to by Labour. But I can remember the ECJ ruling on UK holiday pay entitlement that the social chapter should apply to the UK in that area because of "health and safety". It's always been seen as a federalist court, in that it often rules in the way that gives the most power to the EU in cases that effect where power should lie.

      After all, the treaties were pretty clear that Article 50 shouldn't be reversible without a unanimous vote of all members once activated. But the ECJ ruled that this was not the case, against both the legal opinions of the Commission and the British governement and English courts. The High Court ruling on Gina Miller's first case was that A50 had to be activated by Parliament not the government because it was irreversible.

      So the UK government's attituded is that the ECJ is an EU institution and will always rule in its favour in disputes between us and them. So they can't be trusted to mark their own homework. Which is why most international trade agreements have arbitration panels that are independent of both sides.

    3. JohnG Silver badge

      The ECJ is the court of last resort within the EU and for matters of EU law - which won't apply in the UK after the the end of the transition period. In the same way, when assorted British colonies became independent, they were no longer under the jurisdiction of UK courts or UK law. The UK is a member of the UN and the WTO but is no longer a member of the EU.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ECJ as JCPC?

        Some assorted former British colonies still have the (UK) Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as their highest court of appeal - 12 countries according to Wikipedia, out of 31 territories in total. They include Jamaica, which still has the death penalty. I don't know if it has been asked to rule on any crimes carrying a death sentence since the UK abolished them. If so, it may be the last remaining UK court to rule on them.

        So by analogy, leaving the EU would not require the UK to leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ at all, unless it wants to.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: ECJ as JCPC?

          Yes, the Privy Council has ruled on death sentence appeals in Jamaica. Not that I remember the details any more, and it was before we'd passed the Human Rights Act that outlaws the death penalty in this country - so I've no idea what the situation would be now.

          There's a bit in Richard Crossman's diaries where he said he was summoned to a PC meeting (late 60s perhaps?) because someone had buggered up and the Council had failed to renew the legal code of somewhere like the British Virgin Islands. My copy is at home and a quick Google for details doesn't help...

    4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I believe that the official line is that we need to leave the EU and all European influence on UK laws, European influence over Britain has been going on for over 2000 years now - it's time to return to the days before those damn Europeans invaded ... will the next political baby be called Boudicca?

      We're taking back control - we need to start prohibiting every other country from speaking English, it's OUR LANGUAGE, not theirs, we need to take back control - that's the direction that we're heading.

      Can it get any stupider?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @Version 1.0

        "Can it get any stupider?"

        Your comment? No. And please dont try to prove me wrong. I do not understand the fascination in being backward that some remainers seem to be fixated on.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: @Version 1.0

          His comment was daft.

          Yours was equally daft.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "We're taking back control"

        The primary objective seems to be for rightwing gov types to take control of the rulemaking back from Brussels so they can walk back personal, business and consumer protections that have been enacted across the EU - with the apparent end goal of turning the UK into a mini-USA or libertarian paradise

        Nothing to do with the actual PEOPLE, who will have even less rights and control of their lives as a result.

        As for Libertarian paradises: they exist

        https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/30/colorado-springs-libertarian-experiment-america-215313

        https://www.salon.com/2015/03/02/my_libertarian_vacation_nightmare_how_ayn_rand_ron_paul_their_groupies_were_all_debunked/

      3. Stork Silver badge

        English is not (just) your language. Apart from countries from Australia to Zimbabwe where it was gifted/imposed by your ancestors, there are more users of English as second language (incl. Yours truly) than native speakers.

        Never mind the detail that the roots are in Germany (look up where Angeln is).

    5. SVV Silver badge

      When somebody tells you that we have left the undemocratic EU and that from now on we should trade on WTO terms, just ask them when we ordinary folk get to elect our MPs to the WTO parliament. I asked my brexity MP this when he was doorknocking during the general election, and it shut him up completely.

  11. codejunky Silver badge

    So

    "It has already been delayed for years, and its future was also in doubt thanks to a long-running review of its legality in front of Germany's constitutional court."

    "one of that case’s key arguments is whether the UK’s decision to leave the European Union effectively annulled the whole agreement"

    "Another key argument is the unsuitability of the European Patent Office (EPO) thanks to crazed ego-driven reforms led by its now-former president Benoit Battistelli."

    "UPC advocates were already struggling to explain how the UK would remain a part of the patent court while not part of Europe"

    "Whether states such as the UK or Switzerland should then participate in the UPC can be clarified once the uncertain situation caused by Brexit has been resolved"

    "Not only would the UPC have to find a new location for one of its three main courts but it would also lose one of its main members and a significant source of income. Several nations that could have been part of the UPC decided not to join because it was going to end up costing them money."

    "And, ultimately, the UPC is about money, rather than efficiency or political unity."

    "There are no provisions in the UPC agreement for the case of a member state that has ratified the agreement to drop out,"

    Followed by- "This decision by the UK government to back out was foolish and driven more by ideology than commonsense"

    Seriously. You have put nail after nail into this thing and now the gov is decisive in its action which must be viewed as part of brexit and your complaining? The UK has already left the EU bungling over its missing €75bn it expected to extract from us if we remained (on top of the 'divorce bill') so they can now also fund this mess themselves or let it collapse.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: So

      @codejunky: At last - something we agree on! It feels oddly satisfying...

  12. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Benoit Battistelli

    Dear El Reg

    Looking back in your article history it appears we missed a final update of what happened to the EPO after the loon departed? Is it all sunshine and roses now? I have popcorn going stale....

    Sincerely

    Inquiring minds

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Benoit Battistelli

      Yep, I too was wondering if I missed this somehow...

    2. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Benoit Battistelli

      "Is it all sunshine and roses now?"

      According to a friend of mine who works there it is certainly much better now.

    3. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Benoit Battistelli

      So, yes, Battistelli finally left when his term was up - but not before making sure the EPO's annual inventor awards was held in his home town just outside Paris.

      The guy who's taken over is under fire for not fixing things and keeping many of the same management. EPO staff morale is low but at least they aren't under active attack anymore. Several people targeted by Battistelli are *still* in legal limbo.

      There was this update in a story from January that you may have missed...

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/01/16/single_european_patent/

      "Key among them is the European Patent Office (EPO) which under its former president Benoit Battistelli became more of a fiefdom than an international organization. Battistelli single-handedly undermined the independence of the EPO’s Boards of Appeal entirely out of service to his own ego. One of the four key arguments in the constitutional complaint against the UPC, which is the EPO’s flagship policy, is that it lacks sufficient autonomy.

      Many had hoped that after Battistelli finally left his successor would fix the problems and get the EPO back on track but António Campinos has failed to carry out several obvious fixes, including getting rid of disliked managers, and yielding some of the power that Battistelli clawed out for himself back to its Administrative Council, staff, and Boards of Appeal.

      The EPO has instead maintained its focus on getting more patents approved, faster – seemingly in an effort to compete head on with the Japanese and American patent systems. It has also failed to tackle its cultural and organizational problems. If the patent industry had taken the UPC constitutional complaint more seriously and pushed for reform, it could well have produced sufficient momentum to drive real change. But no.

      “The EPO is in tatters,” we were told by Christian Liedtke, a German patent lawyer who lives and work in the US and with whom we had an extensive conversation about the UPC complaint. “The Boards of Appeal is ashamed of what’s going on,” he stated. He agrees that the EPO is still suffering from the same legitimacy questions that Stjerna put in his complaint."

      In short - it's not got better but it's not got worse.

  13. phuzz Silver badge
    Trollface

    "it seems unlikely that [Boris Johnson’s government] have any notion, let alone a strategic plan, for what to do with respect to intellectual property in the UK."

    Well there's your problem. That word, "intellectual". We don't want none of that, that sounds like what them experts are, and as we all know, the UK is tired of experts.

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    so it can’t just back out

    Sure they can. They probably decided to bail the moment they realised that, no, they couldn't run the thing.

    Or, perhaps from a European perspective, if the UK is leaving every European institution in sight (because sovereignty), then why would they remain a part of this one?

    1. KCIN

      Re: so it can’t just back out

      Well if it resulted in cheap patents, ie was more efficient then that's a reason for saying.

      However the article gives the game away when the PL were rubbing their hands with glee at the money they could screw from clients.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rubbing their hands with glee at the fees = ripping the customer off.

    My bet is that its far simpler. The EU has said if you want in, you have to be subject to European courts. That's a UK red line so we walk.

    That's two good reasons not to participate.

  16. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    willing to bet large numbers of those moaning about brexit voted tory

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "willing to bet large numbers of those moaning about brexit voted tory"

      In which case "You voted for it, you won. Get used to it"

  17. bigtimehustler

    It would be far better if the patent system was entirely subsidised by a percentage of the awarded damages. No one can provide their own lawyers, only court appointed ones, paid for by the funded patent system. That will level the playing field a bit and make the process a whole let fairer and self funded.

  18. Slippery

    Why must Britain always lower its standards to meet the EU. If they want our ingenuity, goods and money they should raise their standards to meet our requirements and then aquiesce to our courts.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Why must Britain always lower its standards to meet the EU"

      *cough*sewage on beaches*cough*

      *cough*air pollution*cough*

      *cough*poor people working 60 hours*cough*

      *cough*minimum wage laws*cough*

      *cough*sick leave entitlements*cough*

      *cough*maternity/paternity entitlements*cough*

      *cough*prosecution of polluters*cough*

      *cough*privacy protection*cough*

      *cough*right to a fair trial*cough*mclibel*cough*

      *cough*arbitrary seizure of land*cough*enclousure acts*cough*

      what has the ECHR ever done for us? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptfmAY6M6aA

      1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        While your point that the UK has in some instances raised it's standards following EU directives is fair, referring the enclosures act of the eighteenth century does make you seem somewhat desperate.

        Also, suggesting that right to a fair trial is somehow something we have courtesy of the EU is rubbish, ignoring as it does several hundred years of progress in equality before the law.

        Most of your points in fact were addressed to some (often a large) degree before the UK even joined the EEC (*cough*clean air act 1956 *cough* as you might say; sick pay I believe originated from the National Insurance element of the welfare state set up post WW2, becoming statutory sick pay in 1983; minimum wage was brought in by Blair as an electoral promise, not an EU directive), and the improvements since we joined the EEC / the formation of the EU reflect improvements in science (hard to have regulations governing PM10 and PM2.5 until you can actually detect particles this size), and the continued improvement in standards that would have occurred with or without the EEC/EC/EU.

        The previous post questioning why Britain must 'always' lower it's standards was clearly incorrect, but it is clear that EU rules/directives are based on compromises across 28 states, and that in some cases, EU standards are below UK standards. In many cases, the UK regulations are therefore more stringent than the EU directive (we had this discussion about 'gold plating' quite recently), so in fact it seems rare that the UK lowers it's standards. But it is also rare that the UK raises its standards due to the EU.

  19. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "it seems unlikely that those deciding to [...] have any notion, let alone a strategic plan"

    Just about par for the course then in most current policy areas. Strategy has become mere "mission statement", to be adjusted or abandoned as the wind changes.

  20. Psmo Silver badge
    Coat

    No blaming the Coronavirus?

    Alright, alright I'm going

  21. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

    "Independent"?

    "... our aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation"

    Uh, what?

    Is UKland not still part of the United Nations thingy? Is it not on the U.N. Security Council? Does UKland not belong to I.M.F., I.T.U., W.H.O. and about a thousand other organisations that "tell us what to do"?

    Brexit was not only stupid, wasteful, idiotic, daft and against the one single trend that is universal in Human history it seems that it was also a half-hearted and farcical joke.

    Is it too late to tell Yurp that we're sorry, we made a mistake and we'd like some hugs, now?

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