After long negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the UK has exited the EU as of 31 January 2020 and entered an 11-month transition period from 1 February to 31 December 2020.
During this period, the UK will continue to operate under the laws of the EU, including those in relation to IP. The EU created two systems for trade marks and designs:
- The European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) system; and
- the Registered Community Designs (RCD) system.
An EUTM or RCD is a single application filed to the EUIPO that automatically extends protection to all Members of the EU, including, until 31 January 2020, the UK. The EU uses different systems for patents and copyright.
Any existing IP in the EU will not be affected until 31 December 2020. The UK will remain a part of the EUTM and the RCD. EUTMs and RCDs will continue to extend protection to the UK. But from 1 January 2021, the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU will come into effect in relation to IP, which means:
- If you hold an EUTM or RCD registration as at 1 January 2021, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will automatically create a comparable, national trade mark or design in the UK. No action is required.
- If you hold an EUTM or RCD application as at 1 January 2021, you will have 9 months to apply for a comparable, national trade mark or design in the UK. Action is required.
- If you hold an International Registration (IR) designating the EU as at 1 January 2021 and:
- protection is granted in the UK by 1 January 2021, the IR will continue to be protected in the UK. No action is required; or
- protection is not granted in the UK by 1 January 2021, it is unclear what will happen but the UK is still in negotiations with WIPO. Action may be required.
- If you hold an EUTM or IR designating the EU but only use the trade mark in the UK, the EUTM or the IR in the EU may be vulnerable to revocation for non-use in the EU.
Patents will not be affected at all. Copyright will also not be affected, but cross-border arrangements between the UK and the EU may change in the future. For more information, please click here.