Intellectual property and Brexit

The Intellectual Property Office has issued commentary on the future of intellectual property (IP) issues following Brexit. We have copied in blow some of their comments to clarify various issues for companies with existing registered IP, or that have applications in progress.

Trade marks

The UK system for protecting trade mark rights is not affected by the decision to leave the EU. While the UK remains a full member of the EU then EU Trade Marks (EUTM) continue to be valid in the UK. When the UK leaves the EU, an EUTM will continue to be valid in the remaining EU member states.

We recognise that owners of existing EU trade marks want clarity over the coverage of those rights when the UK leaves the EU. We continue to engage closely with right holders and a wide range of stakeholders on this issue. The government is looking at various options and we are discussing the best way forward with users of the system.

Designs

The UK system for protecting registered and unregistered designs is not affected by the decision to leave the EU.

Registered Community Designs (RCD)

While the UK remains a full member of the EU, Registered Community Designs (RCD) continue to be valid in the UK. When the UK leaves the EU, an RCD will cover the remaining EU member states. We recognise that owners of existing RCDs want clarity over the coverage of those rights when the UK leaves the EU. We continue to engage closely with right holders and a wide range of stakeholders on this issue.

The Hague System

The government intends to ratify The Hague Agreement to join this international system in a national capacity. The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs allows for registration of up to 100 designs in over 66 territories through filing one single international application.

Unregistered designs

While the UK remains a member of the EU, designs, including patterns, may be automatically protected in the EU as ‘unregistered community designs’. This gives your design 3 years protection from copying.

Unregistered protection for designs will continue to exist through the UK unregistered design right and by using copyright. We are discussing options with designers and other users to ensure that the protection provided is fit for purpose.

European patents

The UK’s exit from the EU will not affect the current European patent system, which is governed by the (non-EU) European Patent Convention. UK businesses can continue to apply to the European Patent Office for patent protection which will include the UK. Existing European patents covering the UK are also unaffected.

Copyright

While the UK remains in the EU, our copyright laws will continue to comply with the EU copyright directives, and we will continue to participate in EU negotiations. The continued effect of EU Directives and Regulations following our exit from the EU will depend on the terms of our future relationship.

The UK is a member of a number of international treaties and agreements. This means that UK copyright works (such as music, films, books and photographs) are protected around the world. This will continue to be the case following our exit from the EU.

As readers will observe, there is some certainty in the IPO’s comments, but a lot of the detail is still to be agreed. Watch this space for more news as it develops.

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