Progress is finally being made in discussions about what will happen to IP protection once the UK exits the EU. In our latest Brexit white paper, we set out the discussions so far and what it could mean for IP owners.

The European Commission's Draft Withdrawal Agreement, issued at the end of February 2018, proposes that EU registered or granted IP rights be automatically granted continued protection in the UK without re-examination and without additional charge. While the document is a draft proposal; it looks unlikely that the final version will vary considerably from the position it outlines.

The draft agreement lays out proposals for managing equivalent protections in the UK on the basis of EU trademarks (EUTMs), International Rights designating the EU, registered and unregistered Community designs, Community plant variety rights, database rights, supplementary protection certificates, and geographical indications, designations of origin and traditional specialities.

In general, the approach taken by the Commission is broadly in agreement with the commercial sector's recommendations, although some matters are yet to be answered (e.g. exhaustion of rights), and others may be more controversial to some (e.g. the proposed position on geographical indications of origin and protected designations of origin). As a plus to brand owners, the equivalent protections in the UK would be obtained automatically, free of charge to the rights holder and without re-examination, while maintaining the priority of the European right.