What will the 31st January mean for intellectual property rights?

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In December, the British public voted overwhelmingly to return Boris Johnson’s Conservative government to power. The Queen’s speech set out the Government’s plans for the next year and beyond, and with a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons, the now famous ‘oven-ready’ deal has sailed through parliament, which means that Britain will finally leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 and enter into a transition period, during which EU law will continue to apply in the UK until 31 December 2020. 

In this article, the MIA’s IP partner, Briffa, explores what this all means for the wonderful world of intellectual property rights…

With respect to EU trade marks and registered designs, it means that in 2020, things will basically stay the same. Existing EU trade marks and registered designs will continue to be enforceable throughout the EU and in the UK, and new EU trade mark and registered design and applications filed and registered in 2020 will continue to be enforceable throughout the EU and in the UK.

However, new trade mark and registered design and applications filed in 2020 but not registered before the end of the transition period will not be enforceable in the UK, although applicants will have a nine-month grace period to reapply for corresponding rights in the UK (without losing the priority/protection date of the EU application filed in 2020).

After the expiration of the transition period, new trade mark and registered design and applications will not be enforceable in the UK, and applications will instead have to file for UK and EU protection separately. However, holders of existing EU trade marks and registered design registrations will, automatically and for free, receive a corresponding UK trade mark or registered design with the same priority/protection date as the EU trade mark or design on which it is based (informally referred to as a ‘UK clone right’).

With respect to patents and copyright, things will basically stay the same in the medium term at least. European patent protection is achieved via the European Patent Convention, which is not an EU treaty, meaning Britain’s membership of the EPC will remain unchanged irrespective of the status of its membership of the European Union. Similarly, international copyright recognition and protection is achieved via a series of international treaties, such as the Berne Convention, which is also not an EU treaty, so again Britain’s membership of the Berne Convention will remain unchanged irrespective of the status of its membership of the European Union.

The take-away point is that life and intellectual property will go on after Brexit. We will continue to do business in the EU and businesses in the UK will continue to have commercial relationships with customers, suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, agents, employees, freelancers and other stakeholders in the EU.

And Briffa, through its UK and EU offices, and its network of agents spanning more than 50 countries, will continue to work with businesses of all shapes and sizes to identify, protect, commercialise and enforce their valuable intellectual property rights in 2020 and beyond!

Written by Éamon Chawke, Solicitor at Briffa.

Don’t forget that MIA members benefit from a free thirty minute consultation and special rates on all intellectual property and general commercial matters. Contact alice@mia.org.uk for the details if you’d like someone to ease your legal headache!

www.briffa.com