The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has issued guidance which it hopes will dispel some of the myths surrounding intellectual property (IP) laws following the country’s exit from the EU in 2019.
The IPO is at pains to point out that even after Brexit, the UK will remain one of the best places in the world to obtain and protect commercial IP interests and offers the following advice to UK businesses:
The UK system for protecting trade mark rights is not affected by the decision to leave the EU. While the UK remains a full member of the EU then EU Trade Marks (EUTM) continue to be valid in the UK. When the UK leaves the EU, an EUTM will continue to be valid in the remaining EU member states.
When the UK has left the EU, UK businesses will still be able to register an EUtrade 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 EU. UK businesses will continue to have access to the Madrid System when looking to protect their trademarks.
The UK system for protecting registered and unregistered designs is not affected by the decision to leave the EU.
Registered Community Designs (RCD)
While the UK remains a full member of the EU, Registered Community Designs (RCD) continue to be valid in the UK. When the UK leaves the EU, an RCD will cover the remaining EU member states.
Once 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 Hague System
The IPO guide explains that the Government intends to ratify the Hague Agreement to join this international system in a national capacity. The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs allows for registration of up to 100 designs in over 66 territories through filing one single international application.
While the UK remains a member of the EU, designs, including patterns, may be automatically protected in the EU as ‘unregistered community designs’. This gives your design 3 years protection from copying.
Unregistered protection for designs will continue to exist through the UK unregistered design right and by using copyright.
The UK’s exit from the EU will not affect the current European patent system, which is governed by the (non-EU) European Patent Convention.
UK businesses can continue to apply to the European Patent Office for patent protection which will include the UK. Existing European patents covering the UK are also unaffected.
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.
Luke Morgan, a Partner with Palmers who specialises in IP law, said: “This guide is helpful in dispelling some of the myths that have arisen as a result of Brexit negotiations. That being said, there are inevitably likely to be ambiguities and unknowns that cannot be predicted until the outcome of Brexit negotiations are determined.
“The main message, for now, is not to panic but equally it is important to consult a specialist IP solicitor to ensure that after the UK leaves the EU, your commercial IP interests are fully protected.”
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