The UK government has confirmed that there is not enough data to fully understand the economic impact of an alternative to the current UK+ regime and therefore this will remain. They have indicated that they will review this position again but there is no timeline as to when this will be.

The current UK+ regime has been in place since January 2021 and is a unilateral application of the EEA exhaustion regime. This means that the IP rights in goods first placed on the market in the EEA are considered exhausted in the UK. These goods can be parallel imported into the UK without the rights holder’s permission. However, the IP rights in goods first placed on the market in the UK are not considered exhausted in the EEA. As a result, the rights holder may stop the parallel export of these goods into the EEA. 

This appeared to be the favoured regime in the responses to the governments consultation on the matter, which had 150 responses. However, over a third also favoured a national exhaustion regime, with some favouring an international exhaustion regime. Therefore, the matter is not clear cut.

CITMA's own response stated that "following the changes needed to be made to business supply chains because of Brexit, CITMA considers that it would be less disruptive and more meaningful if the consultation as to what IP exhaustion regime is adopted were postponed for three years. The additional time would provide perspective and allow data to be gathered on the effect of any change to business supply chains and the current IP exhaustion regime. CITMA’s concern is that the current effect may be hidden by transitioning to the current system and the COVID19 pandemic".

It will be interesting to see whether the government do reconsider the position in the next few years, but, for now, UK+ remains.

If you have any queries regarding exhaustion and parallel imports, do get in touch.