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Retained EU Law Bill: Impact on Intellectual Property

Mar 6, 2023

Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law in the UK. It consists of EU-derived legislation that was preserved in the domestic legal framework following Brexit.

The government never intended to keep Retained EU Law in place indefinitely. The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was introduced to parliament on 22 September 2022. Having completed its Committee Stage in the House of Commons on 29 November, at the time of writing the Bill is currently moving through the legislative process.

What Does The Retained EU Law Bill Do?

The Bill will allow the Government, via Parliament, to more easily amend, repeal, and replace retained EU law. The Bill will also define a sunset date by which all remaining EU law will be repealed, or else assimilated into UK domestic law.

The Regulatory Policy Committee gave the Bill’s impact assessment a red rating, indicating that it’s “not fit for purpose.” Of particular concern is how the Bill might impact small businesses. For instance, the Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has identified at least 70 IP laws that may be classified as retained EU law.

If the Bill passes in its current form, certain EU laws will be “sunsetted” as early as 31 December 2023, but no later than 23 June 2026. Does this mean that IP laws as we know them are eligible to be repealed?

How Will The Retained EU Law Bill Impact IP Laws?

If a law’s “sunsetted”, it means that it will automatically expire on a specific date unless it’s expressly retained, replaced, or reformed. This raises the possibility that at least some of those 70 (and counting) IP laws that fall within the scope of retained EU law could vanish overnight with nothing to replace them.

What IP Legislation Could Be Sunsetted?

Among the IP legislation that could be sunsetted are laws relating to:

  • Protection of databases
  • Artist resale rights
  • Enforcement of IP rights
  • Medicine regulation
  • E-commerce directives
  • Competition law

And much more.

Given the UK is subject to numerous international IP obligations and trade agreements, it’s unlikely that these laws will simply disappear without a trace on  31 December 2023. The Government may simply choose to retain most, if not all of these laws.

But at the same time, they may choose to revise certain IP laws that fall into the scope of retained EU law. So at the moment, nobody can say for certain just what UK IP laws will look like once this sunsetting deadline has passed.

Take Steps to Secure Your Intellectual Property

UKIPO suggested that the Bill provides an opportunity for reform, that revisions to retained IP laws could benefit innovation and growth. However, as the sunsetting deadline is December 2023, they will have limited time for consultations, reviews, and proposals.

As we suggested above, it’s very unlikely that you’ll lose your IP rights overnight. But these are uncertain times, so it’s never been more important to secure your intellectual property in a way that’s flexible and sustainable.

At Anthony Jones, we are passionate about protecting the rights and ideas of individuals. That’s why we are a member of IPAN (Intellectual Property Awareness Network).

Our team of experts can work with you to establish if intellectual property insurance is necessary for your business. We can also help tailor a policy that meets your unique requirements, and that will enable you to protect your IP no matter what happens to UK IP laws.

For more information, call us on 020 8290 9080. Alternatively, you can email us at ip@anthonyjones.com.

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