London, January 2020, the time has come: the UK's membership of the European Union ends with the brexit on 31 January 2020. However, as no agreement has yet been reached on a trade agreement and the future relations between the continent and Great Britain, a transitional period has been agreed for 31 December 2020. But what does this mean for intellectual property?
Until 31 December 2020, this will have hardly any noticeable consequences for holders of intellectual property rights for the time being. After all, all EU intellectual property rights are still valid in Great Britain.
After the end of the transitional period, it was also agreed that EU property rights relating to the territory of the United Kingdom would automatically be converted into British property rights. It is, however, still possible to object to such conversion. Although the brexit still contains various ambiguities, the British Parliament has already adopted various measures to ensure that the conversion of existing EU property rights runs smoothly. The further handling of property rights will also be rather gentle. With regard to EU trademarks that are converted into British national trademarks in the course of this process, for example, lack of use in Great Britain cannot lead to the cancellation of the respective trademark before the end of the transitional period.
However, should a no-deal brexit occur despite negotiations during the transitional period, the brexit could be felt by British lawyers and patent attorneys and in particular, their clients. In this case, British representatives could lose their admission to the EUIPO. Parties who have previously been represented by a British representative as a necessary domestic representative, will therefore be required by the EUIPO to appoint a new admissible domestic representative. EU-based IPR holders who have previously been represented before EUIPO by a UK representative should also seek replacement at an early stage, as they may otherwise be treated by EUIPO as unrepresented and would have to deal with letters that would trigger a deadline themselves.