After completion of all necessary legislative stages in the UK, the EU Withdrawal Agreement has now been signed on behalf of the EU and by the UK Prime Minister. All that remains is for the Agreement to be formally ratified by the European Parliament on 29 January 2020, and the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020.
Built into the Withdrawal Agreement is an 11 month transition period which will end on 31 December 2020. During this time, the UK will still be treated as if it were an EU member state.
For the duration of the transition period, EU law will continue to apply in relation to EU trade marks and Community designs and any related proceedings, so as to still include the UK. As such, Brexit will not affect these intellectual property rights until the end of the transition period, so from the end of 2020 at the earliest. European patents will remain unaffected even after the end of the transition period as the European Patent Office is independent of the UK’s membership of the EU.
Immediately after the end of the transition period, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) will create equivalent UK national rights from any EU trade mark or registered designs, or EU designation in any International registration, which is registered at the end of the transition period. There will also be provision for EU applications pending at the end of the transition period, so that equivalent UK national applications may be created with the same effective filing date. EU rights will continue to cover the remaining 27 EU member states.
The cloning of EU trade marks and designs in the UK after the end of the transition period is expected to follow arrangements the UK IPO had already begun to put in place last year in case there should be no deal reached with the EU. Further detail of such arrangements, which would not now take effect until the transition period has ended, can be found in our last Brexit update at https://www.aathornton.com/brexit-update-effects-on-31-october/.
There is still no immediate need to replace existing EU rights with UK national applications or designations, although your strategy for the filing of future applications may need to be reviewed as we pass further through the transition period.
AA Thornton will continue to keep its clients updated as arrangements become clearer for the transition of EU intellectual property rights in the UK, and we will remain able to support all your UK and EU IP needs, through the Brexit transition period and beyond.