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Intellectual Property

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Does Brexit also mean EU trademarks’ exit?

After the transition period (which we are still hoping for), a formal exit of the UK from the EU will impact trademarks as EU trademark registrations will no longer include protection in the UK.

Holders of EU trademarks will automatically obtain equivalent trademark rights in the UK. The UK government confirmed that no fee will be charged for retaining registered protection of trademarks in the UK post-Brexit.

The corresponding UK trademark registrations will benefit from the same filing date or priority date as the EU registrations.

What about designs?

For designs (whether registered or not), the same reasoning applies as for trademarks.

Holders of (European) Community designs will automatically obtain equivalent design rights in the UK. No fee will be charged for retaining registered protection of design registrations in the UK post-Brexit.

After a formal exit from the EU, some protection for designs in the UK might be lost with respect to unregistered design rights, as current equivalent UK law provides for a more limited level of protection for unregistered designs than EU law.

And patents? 

Patent registrations are based on various legal instruments: national, EU-wide (Unitary Patent Regulation), regional (European Patent Convention) or international.

The expected entry into force of the ‘Unitary Patent Regulation’ might now be delayed because of Brexit, as the UK has not yet ratified the agreement. The UK might therefore block this process while negotiations are ongoing.

Nevertheless, the UK will remain a member of the European Patent Convention (EPC), which is not dependent on EU membership (Iceland and Turkey, among others, are also members). Businesses can therefore continue to follow this route.

Copyrights 

The EU has adopted several directives and treaties in the field of copyright law, requiring coherent implementation under EU Member State law, ensuring a certain level of consistency in protection requirement and interpretation. These directives do not depend on the UK’s membership of the EU, so the protection of copyright works (both in the UK and abroad) will remain largely unchanged after Brexit.

However, with the UK leaving the EU, there may be scope for divergent interpretations of requirements, unless the UK decides to join the EEA.

.eu domain names

The registration of .eu domain names is confined to undertakings, organisations and natural persons that have their residence within the EU. All current owners of .eu domain names must prove that they are EU residents. A direct consequence of Brexit will be that UK registrants will therefore no longer be able to hold their .eu domain names.

EURid, the registry that operates the .eu domain, recently announced that UK residents have two months, i.e. until 30 May 2019, to provide updated contact details providing proof of residence in one of the EU countries, otherwise EURid may revoke the domain registration.

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