What does Brexit mean for intellectual property?

3 minute read
09 November 2020

31 January 2020 marked the UK's official exit from the EU.

So what does "Brexit" mean for intellectual property?

The short answer is: nothing, yet. Although the UK will not, now, participate in the future Unified Patent Court and unitary patent system as and when they get off the ground.

However, changes to the current regime will occur with effect (it is presently expected) from 31 December 2020. The exact changes depend on the terms of any agreement(s) yet to be reached between the UK and the EU addressing their legal relationship from 31 December 2020.

In this article we provide, first, a summary of the changes expected from 31 December 2020 for intellectual property. We then continue with more in-depth commentary outlining: the current legal relationship between the UK and the EU; the legal relationship between the UK and the EU after 31 December 2020, and how EU law will apply in the UK; and exhaustion of intellectual property rights after 31 December 2020. Then, for each of a broad spread of intellectual property rights, we describe the current regime in the UK, the changes to the status quo that will occur if no onward agreement is reached between the UK and the EU, and the likely differences in the event that onward agreement is indeed reached. Finally, we note the impact for ongoing and future intellectual property litigation and customs arrangements from 31 December 2020

What does Brexit mean for intellectual property?


[1] Reckitt & Colman Products v. Borden [1990] UKHL 12; Starbucks v. British Sky Broadcasting [2015] UKSC 31

[2] Satellite and Cable Directive 93/83, Database Directive 96/9, InfoSoc Directive 2001/29, Directive 2001/84 on resale right, Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive 2004/48, Directive 2006/115 on rental and lending rights (and amending Directive 2006/116), Software Directive 2009/24, Term Directive 2011/77, Orphan Works Directive 2012/28, CRM Directive 2014/26, Directive implementing the Marrakech Treaty in the EU 2017/1564, Regulation implementing the Marrakech Treaty in the EU 2017/1563, Portability Regulation 2017/1128. In addition the E-commerce Directive 2000/31 and the Conditional Access Directive 98/84 impact copyright law to an extent.

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