How will Brexit affect my Intellectual Property (“IP”)?

As you are no doubt all aware, ‘Brexit’ was effected on 31st January 2020 by ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that the UK is now in a transition period between now and 31st December 2020, in which our government must agree the terms of our withdrawal after the transition period. The terms upon which the UK shall depart from the EU after 31st December, and in particular, how (and if) EU laws are to be transposed, is yet to be definitively determined. The UK currently benefits from both UK and EU wide protection of IP rights. Individuals and companies can therefore look to protect their Trade Marks and Registered Designs in both the EU market and within the UK. There is currently some uncertainty as to how, and upon what terms, this relationship will continue from January 2021.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”) did however publish guidance entitled ‘Intellectual Property and the transition period’  on 29th January 2020, which confirms that from now until 31st December, the IP system (with both UK and EU wide protection) will continue as usual. Further, the IPO has reassured us that there will be no disruption to IPO services during the transition period. Business for the IPO will simply continue as usual and parties looking to protect their interests by registration can continue as intended. There is currently no guidance as to how exactly the IP system will change after 31st December, which is yet to be agreed. However, Articles 54 – 61 of the Withdrawal Agreement provide for continued protection of registered or granted rights and further, the IPO has confirmed that it will “convert almost 1.4 million EU Trade Marks and 700,000 EU designs to comparable UK Trade Marks at the end of the transition period. This will come into effect on 1st January 2021.” The Withdrawal Agreement provides that this conversion shall be free of charge.

The horizon for EU wide IP protection post 31st December 2020 is therefore still to be determined, and we eagerly await further guidance from our government. In the interim, those parties looking to secure EU wide protection of their Trade Marks and/or Registered Designs, could be advised to explore this opportunity sooner rather than later.

For more information, please visit our Intellectual Property page.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your intellectual property further, please contact Gabriella Shepherd, a solicitor in BTMK’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Team, contactable on 01702 238521 or at gabriella.shepherd@btmk.co.uk

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