UK Government reassures businesses that EU trade marks and designs in the UK will continue to be protected post-Brexit 'automatically and for free'
Last week on 19 July 2018, during a House of Commons debate, Lisa Cameron, Shadow SNP spokesperson asked Robin Walker MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Exiting the EU, what steps were being taken to ensure that intellectual property rights in the creative sector are maintained. Businesses will be heartened by his response, given the lack of clarity on IP in the recent White Paper (see our blog here). We note that his position is consistent with the revised draft withdrawal agreement that released in March 2018 (see our blog here). The statement made to Parliament by Robin Walker MP was as follows:
"UK-owned trademarks and design rights in the EU27 will be unaffected by our withdrawal. Meanwhile, we have agreed to protect all existing EU trademarks, community-registered designs and unregistered designs in the UK as we leave the EU. In place of those EU-level rights, 1.5 million new UK trademarks and registered designs will be granted automatically and for free".
This is good news for brand owners. While the exact procedure has yet to be implemented into legislation, businesses with EU registered trade marks and EU designs can be re-assured that the Government intends to preserve their rights and that there will be no additional official costs. It is also noted that automatically 'cloning' EU trade mark and design rights onto the relevant UK registers can be done by the UK unilaterally with appropriate legislation. These provisions do not require any agreement to be reached with the European Union. The means that even if a 'no deal' Brexit becomes likely, the Government should be able to follow through on Mr Walker's assurances. However, it still remains to be seen how that legislation will operate in practice once implemented. Given that this legislation is not dependent on the negotiation process, we hope that it can be brought forward sooner rather than later so that IP owners and their advisors can have clarity well ahead of the 29 March 2019 deadline.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced over the weekend that the EU and the UK still want a deal in place by October 2018 as both sides "know the clock is ticking" and we will be sure to keep you posted on any further news as and when it happens.
If you have any questions about protecting your IP rights during and after the Brexit process, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team.