How Brexit will affect IP rights

While we still await clarity regarding when, and under what terms, the UK will leave the EU, what we do know is how Brexit will affect IP rights. Here, Serjeants provides an overview of how Brexit will impact Intellectual Property rights and what you should do to prepare.Brexit and IP

EU registered trade marks and designs

The UK has made provision in relation to EU trade mark and design registrations. Regardless of how the UK leaves the EU (i.e. with or without a deal), there will be continuity of protection.

So, existing EU registrations will be spilt across two categories: an EU registration (which will continue to be valid in the remaining states) and a ‘cloned’ UK registration. This ‘cloned’ registration will come into effect automatically and there will be no official fees to pay.

EU applications that are pending at the date of Brexit will continue in the EU and there will be a right to apply, within nine months, to clone that application in the UK. In this scenario, an application fee will be payable to the UK Intellectual Property Office.

EU unregistered design rights

Again, regardless of how and when the UK leaves the EU, the UK will create a right equivalent to the EU unregistered design right. This will automatically come into force on Brexit day.

Copyright

UK copyright works will continue to be protected abroad, both in the EU and around the world, because of the UK’s participation in the international treaties on copyright, which ensures reciprocal protection for nationals of participant countries. This does not depend on the UK’s relationship with the EU. Conversely, for the same reason, EU copyright works will continue to be protected in the UK.

Patents

Brexit will not have any effect on the current European patent system, which is not governed by EU law.

How to prepare for Brexit

On the face of it, it does not appear that Brexit will have a significant impact on IP rights. However, the changes will undoubtedly throw up complex and difficult scenarios which will be different for each business. At present, every business owner should at least consider whether its existing portfolio of IP rights, and in particular its trade mark registrations, remains appropriate and adequate.

The team at Serjeants is already advising on a case-by-case basis in relation to new applications and any ongoing disputes that will be impacted by Brexit. If you have any questions or concerns, or indeed, would like us to review your portfolio to ensure it meets your needs now, and will still do so after Brexit, please do get in touch.