IP, Brexit and Beyond

By Ideas Matter

“Leaving the European Union is one of the most important events in our generation,” IP Awareness Network’s (IPAN’s) CEO John Ogier told Ideas Matter following IPAN’s recent seminar on the potential impact of Brexit on intellectual property in the UK. Highlights of the seminar, which featured a wide spectrum of government, industry and academic participants, can be viewed in the new IPAN/Ideas Matter video.

From the government side, Rosa Wilkinson of the UK Department for International Trade made clear that civil servants are currently in information-gathering mode – “sucking information in” – and currently are “not making broad announcements on what we will be doing in any detail at all”.  She said the government hopes to make decisions, when they get to them, on the basis of good quality information.

Industry representatives explored a range of uncertainties about changes that Brexit could bring in many areas of intellectual property. These include:

- Trade Marks – the possibility that the EU Trade Mark may not include the UK. “The fact that the word is ‘EU’ rather than ‘Community’ Trade Mark is rather a give away, in the sense of having an EU trade mark that applies in the UK,” said Tanya Clark, of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA). 

- Design Rights – possible loss of EU unregistered design rights. “The majority of UK designers rely on these as well as UK unregistered design rights,” said Dids Macdonald OBE, CEO of Anti Copying in Design.

- Plant Variety Rights – potential loss of mutual recognition of rights between the EU and UK.  “This would affect roughly 99% of agricultural field crop production in the UK,” said Nigel Moore, President of the European Seed Association.

However, the participants did see some possible positive outcomes following Brexit, for example:

- Patents – staying in the EU Unified Patent Court.  “We were delighted with the government’s recent announcement that it intends to press on with ratification,” said Neil Lampert of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA).

- Trade Marks – possible continuation of EU rights. “One of the industry’s top priorities is keeping what we’ve got,” said Gill Smith, Group IP Director for Dyson Technology Ltd. “Many rights owners have been owning and happily using Community-wide designs and trade marks, and it will come as no surprise to anybody that rights owners feel extremely strongly that those rights must continue somehow.”

- Treaty protection – through a trade deal with the EU. “Wherever we end up with Brexit, there will have to be a trade deal, and there is a rather heavy IP portion in every trade deal,” commented Calum Smyth, Head of Global IP for Barclays Bank. “We will not have to totally re-design what IP protection looks like.”

In short, said Eddy Leviten, Director General of the Alliance for IP, the UK government “needs to have very clear positions across the board, and it’s important for industry to have that as well.”

For further highlights of the IPAN Brexit seminar, see the IPAN report here and the IPAN/Ideas Matter video here.  For more information about IPAN, contact them at info@ipaware.org or view their website here.


IP, Brexit and Beyond - IPAN Seminar from Ideas Matter on Vimeo.