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What happens to Intellectual Property rights if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal?

February 12, 2019

If you haven’t already registered a UK trademark for your rights, now is a good time to do so. And if you were hesitating the below will explain why should start your registration now.

With the prospect of a no deal Brexit still in sight, if you are thinking of protecting your Intellectual Property, there are clear benefits to proceeding with your Trademark filing before March 29th 2019.

Last year, the UK government published a guide explaining what the arrangements will be in the event of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal. It includes three notices in respect of intellectual property: trademark and designs, patents and copyrights and how the different leaving scenarios would affect businesses’ filings.

Here is what you need to know:

Trademarks and design rights

In the event of a no deal, existing rights in all currently registered EU trademarks and registered Community designs will continue to be protected and to be applicable in the UK by providing an equivalent trademark or design registered in the UK.

“Right holders with an existing EU trademark or registered Community design will have a new UK equivalent right granted that will come into force at the point of the UK’s exit from the European Union. The new UK right will be provided with minimal administrative burden. The trademark or design will then be treated as if it had been applied for and registered under UK law.”

Key takeaway: This means that after Brexit businesses that already possess EU trademark, will have the rights recognised in the UK with minimal effort. If your application is under way during Brexit, you will still have the benefit of a 9 month grace period during which you will need to file your Trademark in the UK following the normal procedure, and be able to backdate it to your EU trademark date. If your Trademark filing starts after Brexit then you will need to file independently for the EU and for the UK. This is a key point as many UK businesses also trade in Ireland and will want to be protected from the word go for both territories.


Brexit will make no significant changes because the existing systems will remain in place, operating independently from the EU regime, with all the current conditions and requirements.

The Unified Patent Court will hear cases relating to European patents and the new unitary patent – both administered by the non-EU European Patent Office. The UPC will be in force after 29 March 2019. The start date is dependent on ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement by Germany.


The UK will be treated by the EU and EEA as a third country and the reciprocal element of these mechanisms will cease to apply to the UK.

It could impact:

  • Sui generis database rights. The EEA will not have the obligation to provide database rights to UK nationals, residents and businesses.
  • Portability of online content services. It will cease to apply to UK nationals when they travel to the UK.
  • Country-of-origin principle for copyright clearance in satellite broadcasting. It might need to clear copyright in each member state to which they broadcast.
  • Orphan works copyright exceptions.
  • Collective management of copyright.
  • Cross-border transfer of accessible format copies of copyright works.

This content is not a substitute for professional legal advice. For more information, or if you have further questions, please feel free to get in touch with our expert Intellectual Property lawyers on 020 7148 1066 and request your free 15 minute IP consultation.

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