Impact of Brexit on Registered Intellectual Property in the UK
After Boris Johnson came to power in Great Britain, Brexit is expected to begin this autumn, 31 October 2019 (“Exit Day”). But what will be the effects for holders of trade marks, patents and other forms of intellectual property after the UK leaves the European Union?
The government is working on legislation regarding further steps in the field of intellectual property in UK territory.
EU Trade Marks and Designs
All registered European Union (EU) trade marks and designs will be entered in the UK Register at no cost to the holders. The rights will be the same as for other national applications. All application dates will also remain the same. If a trade mark or design holder does not wish to obtain national rights in the UK, they have the right to waive them. It is important that the rights be registered separately in the UK and in the EU, if desired.
International Trade Marks
International trade marks and designs currently designating the EU will be registered in the UK Register. They will become standalone national trade marks or designs, as opposed to international registrations.
Use of Trade Marks
EU trade marks and international trade marks designating the EU will be supported by 5-year use period, effective from Exit Day. This means that if the mark is not used in the UK within these 5 years, but is used in another EU country, it will also be considered to be used as a UK national trade mark.
European Union Trade Mark and Design Applications
Pending design and trade mark applications must be re-filed if protection in the UK is relevant. Filing an application will incur the same costs as filing a trade mark or design application in the UK.
The UK Patent Office has confirmed that it will acknowledge all filing dates and priority and UK seniority claims in the relevant EU designs or trade mark applications within 9 months of Exit Day.
If the word “EU” or “European Union” is included in the agreement, it must be specifically examined whether the same rights continue to apply outside the Union. Therefore, it is recommended that all contracts containing this term be reviewed carefully.
Rights Relating to Unregistered European Union Designs
All unregistered designs retain the same rights they had before Brexit. Unregistered designs that are published after Exit Day will not be valid in the UK. The UK has somewhat different legislation regarding unregistered design rights.
Renewal fees will be charged separately for both EU and international applications in the UK.
European patents are enforced under other agreements (European Patent Cooperation (EPC)) and will therefore not be affected by Brexit. As EPC membership does not require EU membership, the UK will continue to be a member of the EPC after Brexit.
European Patent Attorneys in the UK will continue to be entitled to file applications with the European Patent Office.