Brexit – what happens now?

3 February, 2020

As of midnight European time on Friday 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union and has entered a transition period until 31 December 2020. What does this mean for your European and UK IP rights? Edmund Lobb explains below.

What is the transition period?
The UK has now left the EU with a deal as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement between the two parties. However, this is not the end of the withdrawal process, and there will now be a transition period intended to ease the change from one set of rules to another. During this time, the UK will negotiate the exact terms of its future relationship with the EU, but will be treated as an EU state in the meantime. As such, it is pretty much business as usual until the end of 2020.

Patents
As discussed previously, nothing will change regarding gaining UK protection via the current European patenting system, either during or after the transition period. National protection in the UK can be pursued via the European Patent Office, and the UK will remain a signatory to the European Patent Convention that governs it. Therefore, any existing UK national patents, and pending or future applications pursued via the EPO, will not be affected. Ström & Gulliksson can advise you on patenting in the UK, either via the EPO or the UKIPO, and will be able to do so from its position inside the European Union both during and after the transition period.

The UK will be retaining relevant EU law in terms of supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) in its national legislature. Therefore, the law in this area will continue to function in the same way as before.

One area of significant uncertainty is UK participation in the proposed EU-wide Unitary Patent Package (UPP). The UPP has been delayed – due to Brexit and other factors – and the UK still wishes to be a part of the package despite not being a member of the EU. It remains to be seen how this will be resolved. Please contact your usual Ström & Gulliksson advisor for the latest updates.

Trade Marks and Designs
During the transition period, EU trade mark and registered design filings will continue to cover the UK. At the end of the transition period this will no longer be the case, but existing rights will automatically be “cloned”, and equivalent UK rights will be created. There will be no official fee for this. Pending rights can also be cloned, as long as an application to do so is made within 9 months of the end of the transition period, with an official fee payable.

Existing EU unregistered community design rights will continue to be protected in the UK after Brexit. These “Continuing Unregistered Designs” (CUDs) will be established automatically at the end of the transition period. After Brexit, a new UK “Supplementary Unregistered Design” (SUD) will be introduced for designs first disclosed in the UK.

If you have any questions on this, please contact the trade mark and design experts at our sister firm, Advokatbyrån Gulliksson.

Would you like further information? 
Please contact your usual Ström & Gulliksson advisor, or our UK and European patent attorney Edmund Lobb.

This article is written by Edmund Lobb, European and UK patent attorney. Ed has experience handling patent drafting and prosecution for a range of clients, from start-ups to multinational corporations, with particular expertise in the fields of software inventions and aerospace. Ed’s practice in both Europe and the UK helps him guide his clients through the patenting process in a manner tailored to their experience and commercial situation, and provide practical strategic advice with an international perspective.