IP and Brexit: the IPO’s Announcement

05 Aug 2016

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has this week given its take on how Brexit will impact upon the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) upon which UK rights holders rely.


The context of their announcement is the understandably high volume of speculation about how Brexit will impact upon IPR. It therefore seeks to inject some factual clarity into a nervous debate about what the future holds.


The factual information within the announcement is a little thin on the ground and has already been reported, time and again, by many commentators.  The IPO cannot be blamed for the lack of factual information; it is a symptom of the uncertain times ahead.  Perhaps the easiest way to sum up the advice from the IPO is that (a) all IPR currently available will continue to be available until the UK formally leaves the EU, (b) there are alternatives to the EU IPR that UK businesses rely upon, and (c) much will depend on the outcome of negotiations to leave the EU.  

The main points are:


  • Nothing changes until the UK formally leaves the EU.


  • Patents: the European patent system, as governed by the European Patent Convention will not be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK remains part of the new Unified Patent Court agreement. There are no comments from the IPO on how Brexit might affect this.


  • Trade Marks:  UK rights holders will continue to be able to protect their trade marks in the UK and abroad. There is no certainty as to how Brexit will affect EU trade marks. There is a reminder that there is an international trade mark system (the Madrid system), which is separate from the EU and allows international protection in up to 113 territories.


  • Designs: There is no certainty as to how Brexit will affect EU design rights. It is confirmed that the government intends to ratify the Hague Agreement, which will provide a system for  international protection of designs in more than 65 territories.


  • Copyright:  As our copyright laws are intertwined with EU legislation, we do not know what will change after Brexit. Various treaties giving reciprocal international copyright protection will be unaffected by Brexit.


  • Enforcement: the IPO will continue an active role in the review of the Enforcement Directive and the European Commission’s work on tackling infringement.


It is useful to learn that the IPO has invited views on how to address some of the challenges posed,  particularly with regards to trade marks and designs. It will be launching a consultation on how to address the challenges. The announcement also tells us that the government has started exploring various options.  It is important that all stakeholders engage with this process. We will be closely following and participating in the consultations as they develop.


DMH Stallard can advise you on any IPR challenges and issues you have. We can help you with a proactive approach to protecting your IPR, to ensure that your business is as well protected as possible from the uncertainty ahead. For further information, please contact:

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