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IP and BREXIT: The facts

Facts on the future of intellectual property laws following the recent Referendum decision.

There has been much speculation on the future of many intellectual property laws following the recent Referendum outcome.

This guide looks to offer factual information on the future of many international IP agreements that UK rights holders and business can make use of.

Trade marks

UK rights holders can continue to protect their IP abroad. While the UK remains a full member of the EU then EU Trade Marks (EUTM) and Registered Community Designs (RCD) continue to be valid in the UK.

We recognise that for EU trade marks, users will want clarity over the long-term coverage of those rights. The government is exploring various options and we will be consulting users of the system about the best way forward. Even after the UK leaves the EU, UK businesses will still be able to register an EU trade mark, which will cover all remaining EU Member States.

In addition, the UK is a member of the international trade mark system called the “Madrid System”, which allows users to file one application, in one language, and pay one set of fees to protect trade marks in up to 113 territories including the European Union.

The UK government fully recognises the concerns that IP professionals have about their future right to represent clients before the EU Intellectual Property Office. We welcome views on how to address these concerns and are involving stakeholders in consideration of these issues.

Designs

UK rights holders can continue to protect their IP abroad. While the UK remains a full member of the EU, the EU Trade Marks (EUTM) and Registered Community Designs (RCD) continue to be valid in the UK.

We recognise that for EU designs, users will want clarity over the long-term coverage of those rights. The government is exploring various options and we will be consulting users of the system about the best way forward. Even after the UK leaves the EU, UK businesses will still be able to register a Community Design, which will cover all remaining EU Member States.

The government has also made clear its intention to ratify the Hague Agreement in a national capacity, which provides a practical business solution for registering up to 100 designs in over 65 territories through filing one single international application. We are currently working through the steps of joining and hope to introduce the service within the next year.

Protection for unregistered designs will continue to exist through the UK unregistered design right. We will consult designers and other users to ensure that the protection provided is fit for purpose.

Patents

The referendum result has no impact on UK businesses’ ability to apply to the European Patent Office for patent protection.

It will remain possible to obtain patents from the EPO which apply in the UK. Existing European patents covering the UK are also unaffected. British exit from the EU will not affect the current European patent system as governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC).

The UK remains a Signatory State of the Unified Patent Court at present. On 28 November, the UK government confirmed its intention to proceed with arrangements to ratify the Unified Patent Court.

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.

Enforcement

The UK is widely seen as a world leader in enforcement of IP. By working in partnership with law enforcement and industry, the government can deliver an IP environment where legitimate businesses thrive and consumers are protected.

For the time being the UK’s enforcement framework remains unchanged. We are still part of the EU and we will still play a part at the EUIPOs Observatory, and in bodies like Europol. The process for intercepting counterfeits and other infringing goods at the border remains unchanged.

The UK remains a part of the EU until the negotiations to exit are concluded. We will continue to play an active role in the review of the Enforcement Directive, and the Commission’s work on tackling commercial-scale infringement.

The IPO is keen to hear your views about these issues. Please speak to your usual contact or email EUenquiries@ipo.gov.uk and we will ensure your comments are taken onboard.