Paris, August 21, 2018 – Good news for trademark and design right holders in the heart of summer. It doesn’t come from the EU Commission, nor from the UK Government, but from the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
Despite all of the doomsday scenarios up to that of a “no-deal”, more or less important advances are being made step by step to resolve, one by one, the many questions posed by the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU.
“We leave the EU, without leaving Europe”
On March 19, 2018, a Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal was published by the EU, listing all topics including those related to IP (art. 50 to 57) according to the level of discussions, establishing green clauses that are the subject of an agreement in principle, yellow clauses for which the common objective has been set but which still need to be amended or clarified, and white clauses for which everything remains to be done. This project also set a transitional period until December 31, 2020, during which EU law would continue to be applied.
On July 12, 2018, a “White Paper” published by the British Government gives until the fall to conclude negotiations, finalize the Withdrawal Agreement, and determine the framework of future relations (the “Future Framework”) with the EU. In the introduction of this “White Paper”, Theresa May indicates that the British will “leave the EU without leaving Europe”.
Registration with the UK Office: automatic and without official fees for EU trademarks and designs.
On July 19th, it was announced in the British Parliament that registered European trademarks and designs will not be affected by Brexit. They will remain protected in the United Kingdom once the country has definitively left the European Union. These are 1.5 million trademarks and designs that will thus be registered automatically and without official fees by the UK Intellectual Property Office, subject of course to the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement.
This arrangement had previously been proposed during many discussions regarding Brexit and its consequences for intellectual property rights, but no confirmation of this implementation or of the associated operational rules had been discussed thus far.
At present, it is necessary to wait for the Withdrawal Agreement to be signed, but this first confirmation is reassuring for right-holders, even if there are still many questions to be answered, which we will return to as we receive additional information.