The European Union operates a so-called “unitary principle”, according to which EU IP rights are in force in all member states, and cannot exist in only some member states. (This is in contrast to national rights which can be in force in selected member states only and not the whole of the EU). Thus, currently, EU trade marks (formerly called Community trade marks), registered Community Designs, and unregistered Community designs cover the whole of the EU (including the UK).
After Brexit happens, will they still cover the UK?
As things stand, the short answer is that Community designs (both registered and unregistered) will not, and EU trade marks may not (more on this, and why there is a difference, in a later Brexit Bulletin). One would expect there to be a conversion process to divide pre-Brexit EU IP rights (covering all 28 member states) into post-Brexit EU IP rights (covering the remaining 27 member states) and separate UK rights. But no one knows…….
The reason we think there will be a conversion process is that, if there is no conversion process for designs, there will be a loss of rights (because there would be novelty issues if design owners are faced with re-filing in the UK). And, if there is a conversion process for designs, there surely will be one for trade marks too.
Quid pro quo.
If you have any questions about the IP implications of Brexit, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.