Contractors handed official IP Brexit guide

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Speculation about how Brexit will impact the UK’s intellectual property regime — a source of both protection and confusion for contractors — has been addressed by officialdom.

In an online guide, the government says that the system for protecting trademarks; registered and unregistered designs and European patents is “not affected” by the UK’s ‘ Leave’ decision.

Turning to copyright, which it affects many ‘Plan B’ contractors, the government offered similar reassurance, saying that copyright laws will “continue to comply” with EU directives.

But once the UK is out of the EU, new and official ‘IP-Brexit guidance’ acknowledges that, then, the effect of EU directives and rules will “depend” on the terms that the UK negotiates.

Similarly, with EU Trade Marks, while they will remain valid while the UK remains an EU member, “clarity over the coverage of those rights” will be provided when membership ends.

The guidance adds: “The government is exploring various options [regarding EU TMs] and we are discussing the best way forward with users of the system.

“When the UK has left the EU, UK businesses will still be able to register an EU trade mark, which will cover all remaining EU Member States.”

The same wording was used to outline the position on Registered Community Designs. So, although they remain valid while the UK is an EU member, the government recognises that owners will “want clarity” over their long-term validity, once membership expires.

As to enforcement of patents, RCDs and copyright, the government says it is business-as-usual — “for the time being”. However, affected or concerned parties can get in touch.

“The IPO is keen to hear your views about these issues,” the guidance says. “Please… email EUenquiries@ipo.gov.uk and we will ensure your comments are taken onboard.”

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