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How will Brexit impact intellectual property?
10th Dec 2020
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How will Brexit impact intellectual property? - Linkilaw Solicitors
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As the United Kingdom left the EU as of 31 January 2020 and with the end of the transition period, businesses should consider how their business and associated intellectual property may be affected from 1 January 2021.

Intellectual property protection and the exploitation both in the UK and internationally is of key importance to business both now and as part of a longer-term strategy of brand protection.

Some of the key intellectual property rights and regimes that will be altered as a result of Brexit and discussed in this article include EU trademarks, as well as community registered design rights and EU domain names.

How will Brexit impact Intellectual Property?

EU Domains

Companies that are established in the UK but not in the EU will not be eligible to apply for new .eu domains after 1 January 2021 and any existing .eu domains will be subject to withdrawal and revocation.

UK businesses will have been notified of the eligibility criteria needed to continue holding such a domain name – this could be operating and having an office in the EU, for example.  Any businesses that fail to meet the specified criteria will have their website suspended from 1 April 2021.

Therefore, businesses with .eu domain names should check they meet the required criteria or plan now for migrating their website over to a new domain (e.g. co.uk or .com).

Laptop - Brexit impact Intellectual Property

Trademarks and Registered Community Designs

Holders of existing European trademarks (EUTMs) will automatically be granted ‘comparable UK trademarks’ on the UK register from 2021, to replace the UK coverage of the EUTM that is being revoked at the expiry of the transition period.

Similar ‘comparable trademarks (IR)’ will be created for international trademark registrations designating the EU. These existing rights will continue to be registered under their original filing and priority dates.

Holders of existing Registered Community Designs (RCDs) will automatically receive a comparable ‘re-registered design’ recorded at the UK registry from 1st January 2021. These existing rights will continue to be registered under their original filing and priority dates.

Finally, companies or individuals that have applications for an EUTM or RCD which are ongoing at the end of the transition period will have a period of nine months from the end of the transition period to apply in the UK for the same protections.

Patents

European patents remain unaffected by Brexit as the European Patent Office is not an EU agency.

Copyright

As copyright is covered in international treaties on copyright and is largely dealt with under domestic law, this should not change as a result of Brexit.

Next steps

Think about your international brand protection and speak to our experienced intellectual property lawyers on how best to futureproof your business within the European Union and further afield.

Our legal commentary is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice. Please seek legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.

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