Brexit: IP Contingency Plans for a Hard Exit

January 18, 2019 | Tai Nahm

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, the UK House of Commons soundly rejected the “soft” Brexit deal negotiated with the EU over the past two years, and with just 10 weeks remaining until the March 29, 2019 Brexit deadline, it appears that a “hard” exit has become more likely, although still not inevitable.

While the rejected Brexit deal had proposed that any European Union Trademark registrations and European Community Design registrations would be replicated on the UK Register, the prospect of a hard exit leaves the status of EU IP registrations in the UK uncertain, although the UK Government has apparently stated its intention to replicate EU IP registrations in the UK even in the event of a hard exit.

However, European Union Trademark applications and European Community Design applications that have not been registered and remain pending as of March 29, 2019 apparently will not be replicated, and these applications will therefore need to be refiled as UK Trademark applications and UK Design applications for coverage in the UK.

For clients with European Patents or pending European Patent applications filed through the European Patent Office, thankfully, it will be business as usual even in the event of a hard exit, as the European Patent Office is not an EU agency, but rather an independent international organization. Therefore, patent coverage in the UK obtained through the EPO will continue to be possible and will remain unaffected.

Clients with EU IP rights registered or in the application process are advised to contact their IP lawyer to discuss if they may need to take any contingency steps to ensure continued IP protection in the UK, regardless of the type of Brexit that ultimately occurs on March 29, 2019.

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