Law Society warns of The Brexit Effect on IP in the UK

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What are the key messages of the guidance?

Broadcasting and copyright

Under current EU law, broadcasters can rely on a blanket right to broadcast if they obtain clearance in the country where the transmission originates.

In the event of a no-deal however, the Law Society advises that UK broadcasters will need to obtain clear copyright rights in every EU country which their signal reaches (i.e. everywhere they intend to transmit) – for large cross-border productions, this won’t be a cheap or quick feat.

Trade marks and design rights

EU registered trade marks (“EUTM”) and community design rights will no longer have effect in the UK. Having said that, the Government has given assurance that it will give registered EUTM and design rights holders with an equivalent UK right following Brexit, so that there is continued protection in the UK.

EUTM and other European rights currently protected will still be valid in the remaining member states.

The position on unregistered rights, on the other hand, is far less clear.

Enforcement

EU rules on cross-border recognition and enforcement of judgments will no longer apply in the UK. Equally, UK lawyers will generally lose their rights to represent clients in front of EU courts.

The Government has noted that “provision will be made” for litigation pending before the UK courts, where a claim is based on an EUTM or registered community design – what this would mean in practice though is not so clear.

Unified Patent Court (UPC)

A few months ago we looked at whether Brexit would halt the progress of the UPC – the anticipated single European court which will handle patent disputes. The Law Society shares our concerns as to whether the UK could still participate in the UPC following a no-deal scenario.

Other potential impacts

Owners of UK database rights may not be able to enforce their rights in the EU/ EEA.

Equally, EU IP registrars will be able to revoke “.eu” domain names owned by UK companies/ individuals on their own initiative, without giving those owners the right to renew the domain.

It’s hard to know exactly how to prepare for IP aftereffects of Brexit – because next month’s outcome is in no way certain. But, if you own or manage a business which operates in Europe and has a strong brand or IP portfolio, we’d suggest instructing an IP expert to undertake an audit of your rights, to identify any preparatory steps that may be needed to safeguard your position.

For more information, please get in touch.