Article, Brexit, Reforms for the EU

The end of ‘Fortress Europe’? The implications of asymmetrical UK-EU intellectual property rights after Brexit

James Taylor

  1. Brexit and the future of IP rights

For some time, businesses have been awaiting clarifications about the future of the UK-EU relationship with regard to intellectual property rights. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has declared it will convert all EU registered trademarks into UK marks without charge to bridge the gap that will soon exist in law between UK and EU IP rights. As regards patents, it is clear that Brexit will not have a decisive effect,  since it appears they will be governed by a separate system and an independent court.[1] The most immediate question, and currently the most uncertain, concerns the ‘exhaustion’ of IP rights. If there were a deal along similar lines to the current Withdrawal Agreement signed in November 2018, equivalence of IP rights could be expected throughout the two-year transition period that such a deal would trigger. In preparation for the event of a no-deal, however, the UK Government has laid statutory instruments[2] before Parliament that state Britain’s intention to continue honouring the principle of regional IP right exhaustion within the European Economic Area (EEA) following Brexit.

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