Aug 8, 2016

UK Intellectual Property Office Offers Brexit Guidance

The UK Intellectual Property office (IPO) has published a summary guidance note on the status of UK/EU intellectual property (IP) rights in the wake of Brexit – to be found here. The note is brief but covers all of the key rights, providing reassurance of clarity of rights in the immediate future, whilst acknowledging that the landscape of IP rights in the UK/EU in the distant future is far from clear.

The report is titled "IP and Brexit: The facts" though the reality is that the continuity or possibility of EU IP rights in a post-Brexit United Kingdom is dependent on the negotiated exit and relationship between the UK and EU.

What we do know is that the position differs depending on the IP right in question; this is due to the fact that some IP rights have been harmonised, so to speak, across Europe to a greater extent than others. For example, copyright has been harmonised across the EU by several EU Directives and Regulations, and additionally decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union; the extent to which these instruments will continue to dictate the direction of UK copyright law remains to be seen. On the other hand, "the referendum result has no impact on UK businesses' ability to apply to the European Patent office", and "British exit from the EU will not affect the current European patent system as governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC)".

The guidance note also reminds readers that the UK is "widely seen as a world leader in enforcement of IP" and "can deliver an IP environment where legitimate businesses thrive and consumers are protected". At present, the UK's IP enforcement structure remains unaltered.

To conclude, the UK IPO Guidance is welcome confirmation that (1) there will be no immediate change to the status of UK/EU IP rights in the wake of Brexit and (2) there will be some changes to the structure and status of UK/EU IP rights in the future but the extent and formulation of those rights is yet to be seen.

If you have any questions on the issues set out above please do note hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or


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