30 January 2020TrademarksEdward Pearcey

UKIPO reassures rights owners in Brexit transition guidance

There will be no changes to the UK Intellectual Property Office ( IPO) or for its customers when the UK departs from the EU at midnight tomorrow, the organisation said in updated guidance for the transition period to December 31, 2020.

“We can reassure our customers that there will be no immediate impact when the UK departs from the EU on 31 January 2020,” said Tim Moss, CEO, UKIPO. “Our updated guidance is intended to help businesses and individuals navigate through the transition period to January 1, 2021, when almost 1.4 million EU trademarks and 700,000 EU designs will be converted to UK rights.”

With the UK and EU having now both ratified the withdrawal agreement, the UK will leave the EU on January 31, 2020, and the transition period (February 1, 2020, to the end of December 2020) will begin.

During this time, EU law will continue to operate as it does now in the UK, with the IP system continuing as it is until December 31, 2020, said the IPO.

The arrangements in the IP section of the withdrawal agreement take effect at the end of the transition period, and will “provide legal certainty and protect the interests of rights holders and users of the IP framework”, said the IPO.

The withdrawal agreement ensures the “continued protection of existing EU-level IP rights in the UK after the end of the transition period”, said the body.

Businesses, organisations or individuals that have applications for an EUTM which are ongoing at the end of the transition period will have a period of nine months from the end of the transition period to apply in the UK for the same protections.

During the transition period, international registrations for trademarks and designs protected via the Madrid and Hague systems (which designate the EU) will continue to extend to the UK.

In accordance with the terms of the withdrawal agreement, international registrations for trademarks and designs that have been protected before the end of the transition period will continue to be protected in the UK after December 31, 2020. The IPO said it will continue to work with the World Intellectual Property Organization ( WIPO) on the mechanism to ensure continued protection.

The transition period also allows UK legal representatives to continue to represent clients before the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). And the withdrawal agreement ensures that UK legal representatives can continue to represent their clients before the EUIPO in cases that are ongoing at the end of the transition period.

Currently, exhaustion of IP rights occurs in the UK when an IP-protected good is placed on the market anywhere in the EEA, by or with the right owner’s permission, said the IPO statement. This means that rights owners (such as the owner of a brand) may not prevent the movement of those goods (known as parallel, or non-counterfeit, goods), within the EEA.

In the withdrawal agreement, the EU and UK have agreed that IP rights exhausted in the EU and the UK before the end of the transition period shall remain exhausted in both areas.

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