Brexit transition - What about IP rights?

Brexit has impacted as is still likely to impact several economic sectors, including the field of intellectual property.

Rules meant to protect intellectual property rights, that were formally harmonized under the EU law umbrella, will now have to be adapted to the new EU-UK institutional and legal framework.

The transition period, during which the EU law rules will still apply, has started on February 1st 2020, and will be over on December 31st 2020 (if extension is not requested by the UK until 1stof July 2020) with serious consequences for stakeholders to foresee and eventually face. In order to address this need, the European Commission is publishing and updating guidance documents for stakeholdersin several areas. These can be either preparedness notices, highlighting the main points of concern in the current scenario, or readiness notices, offering guidance as well as some concrete advice as to the convenient actions to take when going through the transitional period.

Readiness notices - often structured in sections so as to present the different topics in an organic way - are published for each sector in this page. At the moment such notices have already been published in crucial regulatory areas, including chemicals, cosmeticsand food law.

At this moment, only a preparedness notice in the field of trade marks and Community designs has been published. The notice clarifies that the following remain valid:

  • EU trade marks and registered Community designs;
  • Unregistered Community designs made available to the public in conformity with EU law before the UK withdrawal date;
  • International  registrations  of trade marks  and  designs (pursuant to the Madrid or Hague systems) covering the European  Union and made before the withdrawal date. These will no longer have effect in the United Kingdom.

The notice furthermore highlights the procedural repercussion for both IP rights holders and applicants.

In order to stand in procedures held by the competent offices at EU level, natural or legal persons that are domiciled or have a seat in the United Kingdom will have to be represented by:

-  either a legal practitioner qualified in one of the Member States of the European Economic Area and having his place of business within the European Economic Area, or

-  by a recognized professional that appears in the list that the competent offices keep for this purpose.


Francesca Zuccarello Cimino

Publications Department

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