The Draft Agreement to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union has finally been published (after a painful 2 years). The Brexit deal, which contains 585 pages, sets out a number of important points and considerations related to intellectual property (at Articles 54 to 61).
Key IP provisions
Article 54 of the withdrawal agreement confirms that EU trade mark and registered design owners who have been granted their trade mark/design before the transition period will be able to continue to enforce their intellectual property rights in the UK without a need for a new UK application. Therefore as long as the trade mark/design is registered in the EU before the end of the 21 month transition period (31st December 2020- subject to requests for further extensions, which looks inevitable) an automatic equivalent right will be granted in the UK. The agreement also includes protection for international registered trade marks and designs as stated in Article 56.
Unregistered design rights follow the same pattern as Article 54 and they will be protected in the UK if they arise before the end of the transition period and will be continued to be protected for the remaining period of their protection (Article 57).
Article 61 states that the rights exhausted in the UK and EU before the end of the transition period shall remain exhausted both in the UK and the EU.
The agreement is a draft but has been unanimously approved at a summit of 27 EU leaders on 25th November. Now the agreement will be put to a vote in the House of Commons which would require a majority approval from the MPs in order to proceed (perhaps easier said than done).
In relation to UK and EU trade marks, be ready for double-renewals. If your budget permits you, it is advisable to file for registrations both in the UK and the EU as the end of the transitional period draws nearer.
EU unregistered design law will cease to apply in the UK at the end of the transition period and it will no longer be possible to obtain unregistered protection for surface decoration. Designers should therefore avoid relying on unregistered rights and take advantage of low cost registered design filings.
We will of course be keeping up to date with the summit and approval from the House of Parliament. However in the meantime if you need any advice, Briffa advises on all aspects of Intellectual Property and offers free consultations to all new clients. If you would like to book a call or a meeting with one of our specialist IP lawyers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7288 6003.
Written by Hasnath Ahmed, Solicitor