Yesterday UK voters elected to approve a withdrawal from
the EU. What does this mean for Canadian business owners who
have intellectual property (IP) rights in the UK?
The first message for Canadian IP rights holders is (in true
British style) remain calm and keep a stiff upper lip. All of this
is going to take a while to sort out and rights holders will have
advance notice of the various means to protect their rights in an
orderly fashion. The British are not known for rash actions —
ok, other than the Brexit vote.
Rights granted by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO),
will be impacted, although the extent of the impact is still
to be negotiated and settled. The UK's membership in WIPO (the
World International Property Organisation) is independent of
EU membership and so will not be affected by this process.
Similarly, the UK's participation in the European Patent
Convention is not dependent on EU membership.
Current speculation is that EU Trade Marks will continue to
be recognized as valid in the EU, although such rights will
not be recognized in the UK. This may require Canadian rights
holders to submit new applications for those marks in the
UK, or there may be a negotiated conversion of those EUIPO rights
into national UK rights, permitting these registered marks to be
recognized both in the EU and the UK.
Copyright law should not be dramatically impacted,
since many of the rights of Canadian copyright holders would
benefit from international copyright conventions that predate the
EU era. However, UK copyright law was undergoing a process to
become aligned with EU laws. For example, recent amendments to
the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 were
enacted in 2014 to implement EU Directive 2001/29, and the fate of
these statutory amendments remains unclear at the moment.
Again, this won’t happen overnight. Many bureaucrats
must debate many regulations before the way forward becomes clear.
That’s not much of a rallying cry but it is the reality for
an unprecedented event such as this. The good news? If you are a
EU IP rights negotiator, you will have steady employment
for the next few years.
he content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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