Last week the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) signed a "declaration of intention" with its Swiss equivalent, the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, to "focus on sharing of best practice in areas of mutual interest".
It is set to include a range of activities, such as:
exchange of experiences, knowledge and expertise on programmes, tools, platforms and policies on the promotion, utilisation, exploitation and commercialisation of intellectual property;
exchange of information on the development of public awareness programmes on intellectual property rights, including programmes that are applicable to youths and students;
exchange of officials and experts; conduct of joint training activities, seminars, workshops and programmes on intellectual property, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence and IT innovation;
organisation of symposia and conferences on subject matters of mutual interest;
exchange of information and views on regional and international policy developments and trends of mutual interest.
It is notable that AI and IT innovation are expressly mentioned as areas of interest. The UKIPO is currently analysing feedback from its recent consultation on how the copyright and patent system should deal with inventions made by AI, and the Government has stated that it wants the UK to be at the forefront of the AI revolution, "to encourage innovation in AI technology and promote its use for the public good".
As neither Switzerland nor the UK will be part of the UPC, which came back to life early this year, it is perhaps unsurprising that the national patent offices would seek to share notes on IP issues.
This was also the latest in a series of announcements on increased co-operation between the two countries, with a memorandum of understanding on customs co-operation and bilateral cooperation between the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) both announced in February. The latter initiative aims to to enable partnerships and foster alliance between researchers in the UK and Switzerland, and may develop to include large-scale, joint research projects.
With the UK's ambitious Advanced Research and Invention Agency recently getting the green light, it is interesting to see R&D initiatives seemingly at the forefront of Government policy.