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Implications of Brexit for Your Intellectual Property Rights

Oct 9, 2019

The Brexit debate is an ongoing one. And one with a level of uncertainty for businesses and individuals. Whether we leave the EU with or without a deal will of course have a significant bearing on what impact Brexit has on the UK.

Currently many of the EU’s laws and directives are embedded within UK law. But once we leave the EU, the UK will be able to choose whether to maintain EU laws or to create their own. Equally some of the rights currently afforded to UK businesses as a result of the UK being a part of the EU will cease to exist. Therefore, there are likely to be far reaching implications for businesses. One of these implications may be an impact on intellectual property rights.

What are the possible Brexit implications for intellectual property rights?

The gov.uk site has a guide to the future of intellectual property laws following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Given the complexity of intellectual property rights and gaining the correct protection for your business, once we leave the EU it is expected that there will be some changes required to ensure continued protection and enforceability of protection rights.

Some of these may require you as a business to take action. For example:

  • Applying for extra copyright permission to enable you to continue to broadcast licensed content outside the UK
  • Checking if you need permission to sell someone’s intellectual property in the EEA, if you’ve already sold it in the UK

Other areas may see updates made as a result of creating comparable UK rights. These are likely to be granted automatically and without charge to those who currently hold certain rights e.g. European Union Trademarks and registered or unregistered community design rights.

The IPO has also put together some useful short video guides which detail how certain intellectual property rights may change or be affected by Brexit. These include guides looking at changes to trademarks and patents.

What are the intellectual property implications if we leave the EU without a deal?

If we exit the EU without a deal, there will be no transition period.  Therefore, the following will apply:

  • European Patents are granted under the European Patent Convention (EPC).  The UK is a member of the EPC but; a) membership does not require a country to be an EU member / state, and b) the EPC is not an EU treaty. Therefore, Brexit will have no impact on either EU patents or UK patents.
  • Registered EU Trademarks and Designs will be “cloned” onto the UK Register at no additional cost to the holders.  The EU element of the registration will continue for a period of 5 years. After Brexit, separate UK and EU Trademarks/Designs registration will be required to provide protection across the EU.
  • Any pending EU Trademark/Design registrations will need to be re-filed in the UK, if UK protection is required.  The usual filing costs will apply. All filing dates and claims to earlier priority as recorded on the EU application will be allowed by the UK IPO for a period of 9 months from the date of Brexit.

How can your business stay informed of any impact Brexit may have on intellectual property?

It is important that you keep up to date with all things Brexit if you run a business and particularly if you are reliant on intellectual property for the success of your business.

The gov.uk website will most likely be your first stop to find the relevant information.

The government have launched the ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign encouraging all businesses to prepare and think ahead to the 31st October deadline.

If you engage any legal counsel or representation when it comes to your intellectual property rights, then it is also likely to be worth consulting them for relevant advice on whether you need to take action to ensure that your intellectual property rights are maintained following Brexit.

If you have any questions about intellectual property insurance and whether Brexit will have any implications, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are keeping a close eye on all things Brexit to ensure that we are in the best possible position to answer any questions that our clients may have.

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