The UK government has published its draft EU Withdrawal Bill. Although frequently dubbed the “Great Repeal Bill” it does not in fact seek to repeal all the European law that currently has force in the UK. On the contrary, the aim of the Bill is to incorporate the vast majority of EU law into UK law, so that so far as possible the law in force in the UK the day after Brexit is the same as that the day before.

So far as IP is concerned, whilst this might work for some aspects of European law, such as the IP Enforcement Directive, other laws, such as those that provide for European IP rights, including EU trade marks and Registered Community Designs, cannot simply be adopted into UK law and transitional provisions will need to be enacted. The EU Withdrawal Bill gives the UK government wide powers to introduce such provisions but the scope and use of these powers is likely to be the subject of much opposition in Parliament as the Bill is debated.

The EU has published its own position paper on intellectual property rights (described in detail by Will Jensen on pages 6-7 of the 3rd quarter 2017 edition of ReMarks). It would like existing European IP rights, including the important protections for agricultural products such as champagne and Parmesan cheese, to be automatically recognised in the UK following Brexit. The UK may well be happy to agree to much of what the EU has proposed in this regard, as the UK also has an interest in continuing the existing protection for UK products, for example, scotch whisky – a very important export for the economy.