What is happening to the EU IP rights post-Brexit?  

The recent easing of the lockdown has seen businesses slowly begin a to return to normal and the UK’s exit from the EU now looms ever closer. As an intellectual property (IP) law firm in London, we would like to recap the current situation with the UK IP rights.


The UK and EU have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement allowing the transition period to begin until the end of 2020. During this time there will be no disruption to IPO services or changes to the UK IP system. Almost 1.4 million of the EU trademarks and 700,000 of the EU designs will be converted into UK rights at the end of this year. The changes to IP rights are considered in more detail below.




From 1 January 2021, , EUTMs will no longer protect trade marks in the UK. However, under the Withdrawal Agreement Act, on the 1 January 2021, the owners of the registered EU trademarks will automatically receive from the IPO corresponding UK trademarks. These corresponding UK trade marks will have the the same filing and priority dates as the original EURM and trade mark works will not incurr any additional costs.


As the IPO will only create a comparable UK trade mark for EUTMs registered before 1 January 2021,  any EU trademark application which is still pending at the end of the transition period will require the applicant to apply to register a comparable UK trade mark in the 9 months after 1 January 2021.  Doing so will retain the earlier filing date of the pending EUTM and an applicant will be able to claim any valid international priority they had on the pending EU application, along with any UK seniority claims recorded against it. The application for a comparable UK trade mark must match the details of the corresponding EUTM application.

It should be noted that the usual UK fees will apply for the registration of the corresponding UK application




As copyright is a national right provided separately by each country,  it is not expected that there will be  substantial changes to UK copyright law from 1 January 2021.


However, a large part of UK copyright law is derived from the EU copyright framework. As a result, there are references in UK law to the EU, the EEA and member states. To address this, the UKIPO has introduced regulations under the powers of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019. These regulations remove or correct references to the EU, EEA or member states in UK copyright legislation.


Cross-border copyright arrangements will continue to apply to the UK and any database rights that exist in the EU and UK at the end of the transition period will continue to be recognised in both territories for the remainder of their term.





Designs and Models


UK national design registrations will be unaffected by Brexit. However, Registered and Unregistered Community Design rights are governed by an EU regulation. The position with these rights is similar to that of trade marks. The holder of a Registered Community Design that has been registered by the end of the transition period shall be automatically granted an equivalent UK national registered design for the same design.


Holders of a unregistered Community design which arises before 1 January 2021 shall automatically become the holder of an equivalent UK right with the same protections.


Why Does This Matter?


The UK’s exit from the EU looms ever closer and businesses should act now to ensure they are adequately protected from 1 January 2021. . If you would like to discuss any IP issues that your business might be facing, then please contact Madina Tatraeva at madina.tatraeva@ilaw.co.uk.