Posted by Stephen Welfare, Partner
Your brand and Brexit
The UK is definitely leaving the EU on 31 October. “No ifs, no buts” – so says our new prime minister, Boris Johnson. If so, what impact will that have on intellectual property (IP) law in the UK, and where does it leave UK-based EU rights holders?
Intellectual property concerns when it comes to Brexit are widespread. Businesses in retail and life sciences sectors, in particular, will be monitoring the situation and taking steps to ensure continued protection of their IP.
The good news is our Government has already made a start on IP rights and has begun to issue statutory instruments under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
The purpose of these statutory instruments is to correct deficiencies in UK legislation and retain EU law arising from Brexit, so that the law is effective once the UK actually leaves the EU, be it on 31 October or whenever. Some laws simply have no practical effect after departure, e.g. those relating to the enforcement of EU trade marks in the UK etc.
Some of the issued statutory instruments of particular note are those relating to designs and trade marks, patents and EU trade marks:
Designs and International Trade Marks (Designs and International Trade Mark Amendments etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/638), which provides for the continued protection in the UK of EU registered and unregistered designs and international trade marks and designs designating the EU, and to allow those who have applied for such rights before exit day to apply within 9 months for equivalent UK rights taking the same filing or priority date as the EU rights.
Patents (Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/801) which amends UK Patent Law so that those aspects of the law that are currently based on EU legislation will, after exit, be incorporated in to UK Law. The amendments deal primarily with compulsory licencing of pharmaceutical patents etc. and unitary patents and the Unified Patent Court.
Trade Marks (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/269) which is concerned with the effect of Brexit on the UK rights of EU trade mark owners. Among other things, they provide owners of EU trade marks registered before exit day will be granted a comparable UK right. This is designed to compensate for the loss of the UK part of the EU trade mark.
Other statutory instruments have been issued relating to copyright, databases, geographical indications, research and development. Whether a smooth transition of pan European intellectual property rights to UK rights will occur on exit day is doubtful, but steps are being taken and we shall continue to keep our clients informed and updated on these.
If you have any questions about your trade marks or other IP, our expert team of intellectual property solicitors are here to help.
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