The withdrawal of the UK from the EU: impact on your pending and registered IP rights

The United Kingdom and European Union have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement and the UK formally leaves the EU on 31 January 2020. There will be a transition period which begins 1 February 2020 and ends on 31 December 2020 to allow the finalisation and implementation of a number of matters yet to be decided about the ongoing relationship between the UK and EU.

During the transition period, EU law will continue to operate in the same fashion in the UK. The Intellectual Property (IP) system will continue as it is until 31 December 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement ensures continued protection of existing EU-level IP rights in the UK after the end of the transition period.

According to the UK IPO they will have to convert almost 1.4 million EU trade marks and 700,000 EU designs to comparable UK rights. These new UK IP rights will come into effect on 1 January 2021.

EU trade marks

The UK will remain part of the EU trade mark system throughout the transition period. EU Trade Marks will continue to extend to the UK during this time.

Comparable UK trade mark rights will be created at the end of the transition period.

Registered Community Designs

The UK will remain part of the EU registered Community design system throughout the transition period. Registered Community designs will continue to extend to the UK during this time.

Comparable UK designs will be created at the end of the transition period.

International registrations designating the European Union

During the transition period, international registrations for trade marks and designs protected via the Madrid and Hague systems which designate the EU will continue to extend to the UK.

In accordance with the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, international registrations for trade marks and designs that have been protected before the end of the transition period will continue to be protected in the UK after 31 December 2020.

The UK IPO and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are continuing to work together on the mechanism to ensure continued protection.

Patents

As the EPO is not an EU agency, leaving the EU does not affect the current European patent system. Existing European patents covering the UK are unaffected.

Elena Szentivanyi - 31 January 2020

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