Although the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union effective 31 January 2020, for the foreseeable future there will be no changes from an intellectual property perspective.
TrademarksThe only EU harmonized institution is the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which processes the registration and maintenance of European Union-wide trademarks, EUTM’s. During a transitional phase expected to last at least until the end of 2020, EUTM registrations will continue to be enforceable in the UK, just like national UK registrations, and new EUTM filings will still include territory of the UK. While the post-transitional rules are still in flux, we expect that registered EUTM’s will be cloned as national registrations on the UK register. No action will be needed. For still pending EUTM applications, we anticipate that owners will be allowed a cut-off period during which they – for a fee – can convert their pending EUTM’s into pending national applications on the UK register. We will learn more in the coming months.
EU DesignsSimilarly for EU Designs. Issued EU Designs are effective for the UK and pending EU Design applications continue to cover the UK, at least during the transitional period.
Utility PatentsFor utility patents, there will be no change. The main vehicle by which U.S. patentees extend their rights to EU countries is the Patent Cooperation Treaty, but the PCT is not an EU mechanism and will be unaffected by Brexit. Similarly for the European Patent Office, which is also not an EU institution. This grants patents for member states that contract under the European Patent Convention. The UK’s departure from the EU will not have any impact. Brexit may well have delivered the last wound to the Unitary Patent. This Regulation providing for EU-wide patents has already been stalled for years. Two EU member states – Poland and Spain – have not ratified it and the arrangement faces a constitutional challenge in Germany. It was going nowhere. At the end of February 2020, however, the UK had its “Et tu, Brute” moment, announcing that it would no longer be participating in the system because ceding review authority to the European Court Of Justice, an EU institution, was “….inconsistent with (the United Kingdom’s) objective of self-governance…” Brexit may have been the last dagger, but the corpse was already cold.
CopyrightsCopyrights are exclusively creatures of national law and while all EU countries, including the UK, follow the same general principles, those have wide acceptance internationally, at least outside of the U.S. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is not expected to result in any changes.
At IpHorgan, we offer you insight that can only be acquired and meticulously developed during our 15 year history as a team with over 200 years cumulative professional experience working on intellectual property transactions with businesses in nearly every sector of the U.S. and global economy.