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Intellectual Property And Brexit

At long last, the UK Government has provided some major clear indications of how unitary EU-registered IP rights (including EU Trade Marks and Registered Designs) will be treated post-Brexit. On Monday 19 March 2018 the draft agreement for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU was published, and Title IV (Articles 50 – 57) deals specifically with intellectual property.

Essentially, the agreed provisions are more or less moving in the direction that most industry experts expected the position to be. The good news for all current EUTM holders is that after the agreed transitional period (March 2019 to December 2020, whereby the UK will remain a member of the EU), EU Trade Marks and Registered Community Designs that are granted before the end of the period will continue to be protected in the UK. This will be in the form of a ‘comparable’ registered right enforceable in the UK, and would not require re-examination. The registration will also preserve its EU filing date, which means the renewal date would be the same.

The full text of the draft agreement is available here, with the section relating to IP rights starting from page 36. Text highlighted in green indicates what has been agreed.

This continuation of protection will also apply to EU Trade Marks that were filed through the Madrid system at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

There are still details that remain to be agreed, particularly the mechanics of how this ‘comparable’ right will be administered and if the holders will have to bear any charge. There is also no indication as to how the issue of rights of representation would be dealt with. Nonetheless, the draft agreement is particularly welcomed as it provides some degree of certainty in the maelstrom that is Brexit.

If you have any queries about this or other intellectual property issues, please contact Dennis Lee.