After a near-landslide victory for his Conservative party on December 12, 2019, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson rushed to follow through on the Brexit referendum. He convened Parliament December 20 in hopes of ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), a plan to separate the UK and EU as of January 31, 2020. MPs did just that, with 358 votes in favor versus 234 against.

In a nutshell: After three and a half years of teases, extensions and bitter debates both inside and outside of Parliament, Brexit is just a few weeks away. Dealing with patent and trademark application processes in either (or both) of these jurisdictions sometime in the not-too-distant future? Here is what you need to know:

The transition

Under the WAB, a transition period begins after January 31 in which the UK is not technically an EU member but must abide by the group of nations' laws and regulations and remain a part of its customs union. After December 31, 2020, only British rules will apply.

This grace period exists to allow UK and EU lawmakers to develop a mutually beneficial trade deal. Such an accord could include changes to patent and trademark regulations, so it will be critical to watch the progress of those negotiations closely. However, inventors and the organizations employing them, along with countless others around the world, may have to be more concerned with whether this deal is formulated and agreed upon between January 31 and the end of 2020. PM. Johnson is pushing to get the deal done but said he would not extend beyond the December 31 deadline to ensure such an outcome. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in turn, expressed skepticism regarding the possibility of a meaningful accord in that period.

Effects on copyrights, trademarks and patents

Europe's IP laws will hold sway in the UK during the transition, but not after December 31. Afterward, most IP protections (though not all) will change in some way or another. As is the case with existing trademarks, anyone already holding a valid patent from the EPO will not need to apply for a new one with that organization or the UKIPO. Besides, if UK inventors apply for and receive EPO patents on their creations, the IP is protected in Britain and the EU, because the former will continue to participate in the European Patent Convention even post-transition. Holders of authorized and up-to-date trademarks and patents from the EPO or UKIPO should, for the most part, be all set with their IP protection.

Dennemeyer's comprehensive suite of international IP law services offers the full spectrum of coverage and representation you will need to ensure thorough protection of rights to your creations in the UK and EU alike. We have defined a specific EUTM / RCD filing service to assist UK clients when Brexit goes ahead. The concept has been designed for UK clients that need or want to work with an agent to file their future EUTM’s both cost effectively, and with proficiency.

We have put together a brief guide to cover all notable changes that Brexit will have on IP rights holders and the steps patents and trademark applicants may need to take to ensure nothing goes awry with their IPRs. No matter how stressful the transition and final separation of Britain from the EEA may be for your business and its personnel, you can rest assured your IP will be in secure hands with us.