There has been much commentary and speculation on the
potential impact on intellectual property rights following the
UK's decision to leave the EU. To help inform the debate
the UK Intellectual Property Office has recently published a
guideon the future of UK intellectual property (IP)
laws following the Brexit vote.
Aim of the guidance
The guide is helpfully divided into separate sections for
different IP rights, namely trade marks, designs, patents,
copyright and the enforcement of IP rights.
Currently, while the UK remains a full member of the EU, EU
Trade Marks (EUTMs) remain valid in the UK. Once the UK has
'Brexited', UK businesses can continue to register EUTMs
which will ensure protection of their trade marks in the remaining
EU Member States.
For EUTM rights holders that wish to ensure their current
registrations provide protection in the UK, the position is less
clear. The UK Government is currently considering available
options. It is thought, but has yet to be confirmed, that a
system will be put in place to ensure that holders of EUTMs will
have their rights extended to include the UK once the UK has left
The international trade mark system, the Madrid System, remains
available for use by UK businesses enabling users to protect trade
marks in up to 113 territories (including the EU) through the
filing of a single central application. The UK's
membership of the Madrid System will not be affected by Brexit.
The IPO is also inviting comments on how UK IP professionals can
secure rights to represent their clients before the EU Intellectual
As with trade marks, for so long as the UK remains a full member
of the EU, Registered Community Designs (RCDs) remain valid in the
UK. Following Brexit, UK businesses will be able to continue
to register RCDs securing protection in the remaining EU Member
Once again, the UK Government is considering the long-term
coverage of RCDs, including how existing RCDs might extend to the
Additionally, the UK Government has confirmed its intention to
ratify the Hague Agreement. This will provide businesses with the
opportunity to register up to 100 designs in over 65 territories
through one single international application.
Unregistered designs will continue to be protected through the
UK unregistered design right.
The European Patent Convention is not impacted by Brexit.
Brexit has no effect on the ability of UK businesses to apply to
the European Patent Office (EPO) for patent protection or to obtain
patents from the EPO which apply to the UK. The validity of
existing European patents covering the UK will not be affected.
Additionally, the UK is still a Contracting Member State of the
Unified Patent Court (UPO) and the IPO foresees no immediate
changes on this front. Therefore, at the present time UK
ratification of the Unified Patent Court still remains
UK copyright laws will continue to comply with EU copyright
directives while the UK remains a member of the EU. The terms
of exit negotiations will dictate the legal effect of EU directives
and regulations post-Brexit. The IPO notes that UK copyright works
will be protected around the world even after the UK leaves the EU
as the UK is a member of numerous international treaties and
There have been no changes to the UK's enforcement framework
(for the moment). The process for intercepting counterfeits and
other infringing goods at the UK border also remains unchanged.
Contact MacRoberts LLP for advice on Brexit
MacRoberts' have extensive experience in relation to
intellectual property issues and can advise businesses on managing
their IP portfolio and adapting to changes that need to be made in
the future due to Brexit.
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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1.The trade mark shall not entitle the proprietor to prohibit its use in relation to goods which have been put on the market in the Community under that trade mark by the proprietor or with his consent.
The UK government has not yet invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (this is likely to happen by the end of March), and the UK's actual exit from the European Union is at least two years away.
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