February 17, 2020

Brexit and Intellectual Property

With the official withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on January 31, 2020, comes a plethora of potential alterations to the field of intellectual property. The withdrawal agreement stipulates the now effective transition period, which will last up to December 31, 2020, acting as an intermediary period in which the particulars of the alterations are smoothed out.

Whilst the withdrawal from the EU will undoubtedly impact all areas of the intellectual property field, the scope of impact is significantly more profound on trademarks and industrial designs.


At the end of the transition period, owners of registered EU trademarks and designs will automatically acquire an enforceable separate UK registration, free of charge. These marks and designs will retain the same priority, filing and renewal dates. It is estimated that 1.4 million EU trademarks and 700,000 EU designs will be converted by the UK IPO in this manner.

Corresponding UK trademarks will not be subject to revocation on the grounds of non-use if the EU trademark had not been genuinely used in the UK prior to January 1, 2021.


The automatic acquisition of a UK trademark or design will not apply to pending EU applications, instead, the applicant will have to apply for a corresponding UK registration within nine months of the transition expiry date, that is from January 1, 2021, till September 30, 2021.
Trademarks and designs registered via this route will maintain the same EU filing date, therefore the validity term will be calculated from the EU filing date, as opposed to the date of filing in the UK. The regular trademark filing fee of GBP 170 for an application in one class will be charged, with an additional GBP 50 due per each additional class.


Currently, the UK IPO states that international trademark and design registrations designating the EUIPO will no longer cover the UK after the transition period. However, the UK IPO and WIPO will be attempting to ensure that IPR holders retain rights for their internationally protected EU designations in the UK by the end of the transition period. This legislation is in the process of being finalised.


European patent rights will remain enforceable in the UK since the European Patent Convention is not restricted by EU membership.

The intellectual property field in the UK will inevitably see significant legislative changes towards the end of the transition period. These are hoped to provide a stable and efficient way for IPR holders to ensure the protection of their intellectual property within the UK, despite the withdrawal from the EU.

Author: Danielle Carvey