European Commission issues stance on IP protection following Brexit

19 九月 2017

The European Commission has issued a white paper setting out the European Union’s position on Intellectual Property rights once the UK has left the EU, which is currently scheduled to happen in March 2019. In good news for IP rights holders, key positions include that current holders of IP rights with unitary character should have a comparable right in the UK post-Brexit and that the implementation of this principle should not result in financial costs for the IP owners.

IP rights with unitary character include European trademarks, registered and unregistered community design rights, community plant varieties, protected geographical indications and registered geographical indications. Current owners of such rights can therefore be reassured that, the intention is that post-Brexit, they will still hold equivalent rights in the UK, even if this means that specific legislation needs to be introduced.

The EU also hopes to make the maintenance of unitary rights as streamlined as possible for rights holders in the UK post-Brexit by enabling rights holders to renew their rights on the same schedule (e.g. with the same deadlines) that would have applied to the unitary right.

With respect to trademarks, the EU wants the UK to uphold the same principles of priority and seniority that apply under community legislation and furthermore, also intends to apply the same rules regarding “genuine use requirements” and “reputational rules”. Priority principles will also apply to any relevant design rights.

The situation for applications for unitary rights that are pending at the time of Brexit is a little different, in that the EU’s position seems to be that such applications will not automatically transition into equivalent applications in the UK post-Brexit. Rather, applicants will need to make separate applications in the UK if their unitary applications are not granted at the point of Brexit. Applicants should be able to keep the benefit of any priority date associated with the pending application, however.

In summary, this white paper seems to offer reassurance to unitary rights holders that the EU intends to negotiate hard to ensure hassle-free and cost-free transition of unitary rights into equivalent UK rights post-Brexit. Let’s hope that this intention is realised.

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Andrew Flaxman
Andrew Flaxman
Locations: Bristol (UK)
Kimberley Bayliss
Kimberley Bayliss
Locations: Bristol (UK)