Skip to main content

Latest Releases

June 12, 2016

The Impact of Brexit on Your Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

How is Brexit going to impact the businesses intellectual property rights? Our Commercial Director, Rhian Osborne explains.

In June 2016 an EU Referendum took place in the UK and the significant decision to leave the EU was complete.

Most of the IP law applicable in the UK is set out under EU law. So one of the questions on your mind, if you are a company that owns valuable IP, will be how is Brexit going to affect your business' IP rights?

Don’t be Alarmed

Although the UK has decided to leave the EU, it is a very lengthy process to actually go and it is likely to take many years. Many of the intellectual property laws are covered by EU Treaties and these will continue to apply until the withdrawal agreement comes into force. This is dependent though on whether the UK and EU come to a conclusion before hand and agree an extension.

The UK has a huge amount of matters to deal with succeeding Brexit and the range of laws that will be effected are immense. It is most unlikely therefore that the IP laws will take precedence in the list of the laws to be rewritten.

However, it seems likely that the UK and EU will make a plan to extend current EU rights into the UK. Even if the laws are redrafted and incorporated into UK Legislation, they will possibly be almost identical to the laws of the EU.


Many are scared that leaving the EU will make the UK less alluring to IP owners and developers. However, the UK is known as one of the healthiest IP right enforcers and it is very unlikely that the UK will want to jeopardize losing its high protection position.


Trademarks will still be safeguarded abroad and whilst the UK remains part of the EU, EU Trademarks and Registered Community Designs will stay valid in the UK. Even once the UK leaves the EU, UK businesses will still be able to apply for an EU Trademark.

This is because the UK is a member of the "Madrid System" which is isolated from the EU. This system allows trademark applicants to make one international application, in one language, paying one fee to the set up various trademark protections throughout the 113 territories covered by the system, including those in the EU.


There will be no impact on the European Patents as the European Patent Organisation is also a separate organisation to the EU. The application procedure for European Patents will remain the same. Existing European Patents covering the UK will remain unaffected. There will be no effect on the current European Patent System due to it being governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC).


Whilst the UK is still a member of the EU, the UK copyright laws stay compliant with EU copyright directives. Decisions will need to be made on whether the UK will still be governed by EU directives, particularly in areas such as copyright, which is seriously governed by EU directives. The future of the directives' impact on the UK law post-Brexit hangs entirely on the relationship between the UK and EU and how and if the UK decides to incorporate current directives into UK legislation.

Case choices

One thought-provoking point to come out of Brexit in relation to intellectual property is that the judges will no longer have to follow EU case law. This will allow the UK Courts to take an interpretation on the application and interpretation of IP laws. This could be very beneficial for the UK and may lead the way for other countries to follow. 

It’s going to be a long road…

In a nutshell; the laws will not change in relation to Brexit until Brexit actually takes place. Even then it is highly unlikely that laws such as IP are going to change considerably. The current IP protection scheme works well and the law makers are completely aware of this. Post-Brexit there is an very high chance that your IP rights will remain identical throughout the EU and UK.

The commercial and IP team at Greenaway Scott advise clients on intellectual property matters and are more than happy to discuss how to protect your IP assets.

This article was originally published by Business Insider. Read the full article here.

Return to index