It seems that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 12 April, with or without a deal. Postponement, if any, is only possible if the British Parliament has as yet agreed to the so-called Withdrawal Agreement drawn up by Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU.The Parliament has explicitly stated that existing IP rights established in a EU context will be guaranteed both in case of a ‘deal’ Brexit and in case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. We have taken a further look at what effect this will have on IP rights.
No effect on patent rights
Patents are national rights. This means that Brexit will not have any affect on patent rights, even if, for instance, these were granted through the European patents procedure. After Brexit, the UK will remain part of the European Patents Treaty. Therefore, it is still possible to obtain new patent rights in the UK through a European patent.
Furthermore, the possible effects of Brexit on Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) are currently still unclear.
Impact on parallel import
The UK’s withdrawal may have an impact on the parallel import between EU countries and the UK, which is now possible because of the ‘exhaustion’ of the patent right. This means that once a patented product has been sold within the EU (with permission of the patent holder), it can be freely traded within the rest of the EU. Even when there are patents in those countries. After Brexit (without any further agreement on this) the right will no longer apply and the ‘principle of exhaustion’ will not be applicable to the UK. This allows for the prohibition of import and export between the EU and the UK.
Converting European trademark and design rights to UK rights
In the UK you can register your trademark and design rights in a national registry or via a European registry. After Brexit, all existing European trademark and design registrations will be converted into equivalent national registrations in the UK, while maintaining the original application and registration date. You must pay separate maintenance fees for these UK rights.
Current European trademark and design applications may be filed under national UK law up to nine months after Brexit. The original application and priority dates of the EU registrations will be preserved. You must pay a separate registration fee for this.
The process and time schedule for these registrations will depend on whether it will be a Deal or No-Deal Brexit:
More information after Brexit decision
Although the UK is expected to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, Brexit may also be postponed or even cancelled altogether. Once a decision has been made about Brexit, we will provide you with further information. Do you have any questions in the meantime? Please contact one of our experts.