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The UK Information Commissioners Office (the ICO) has released an International Strategy (the Strategy) in which it outlines its plans for 2017 – 2021 to deal with the data protection challenges presented by globalism, the GDPR and Brexit. The Strategy which can be read in full here is the first with an international emphasis released by the ICO. It is described by the UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, in a statement on 4 July, as a “blueprint” for how the ICO will deliver its international objectives.

The Strategy reiterates the ICO’s commitment to assisting with the implementation of the GDPR into UK law. Operating on the assumption that the UK will implement the provisions of the GDPR prior to leaving the EU, the ICO expresses an intention to strongly engage with the Article 29 Working Party and the European Data Protection Board up until the UK’s exit from the EU. Furthermore, it notes that it will seek to maintain working relationships with these groups post-Brexit. The ICO qualifies this by stating this will be dependent on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

While the Strategy encompasses a 5 year time period, the ICO envisages that it will be subject to regular review and updated to reflect any new challenges that may arise in the protection of personal data.

 

The German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has delayed the ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. This is the result of a challenge to the UPC on constitutional grounds by a private individual who has not been named.

The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reported on 12 June, that the Federal Constitutional Court has requested the Federal President refrain from signing the legislation, until consideration has been given to the challenge. The Court is of the opinion that the challenge is not “hopeless” and therefore must be heard before the UPC can be ratified. The legislation had already been approved by Germany’s other legislative bodies (the Bundestag and the Bundesrat).

The UPC was due to become operational by December 2017. However, in a statement published on 7 June 2017, the UPC’s Preparatory Committee noted that this target would not be possible due to delays in the ratification process. The delay in ratification on the part of Germany is likely to be a significant factor in the future timeline of the Court, as Germany, along with the UK and France (who have ratified) are required to ratify the UPC Agreement before it can come into effect due to their status as the three EU member states with the highest number of patents.

The Agreement has been ratified so far by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Finland. Ireland has not yet ratified the UPC Agreement as a constitutional amendment to endorse the UPC must first be put to referendum.