Posted on Monday 23 October 2017 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property

The UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union is one which has created much uncertainty and brings with it changes to intellectual property rights (IPR), not just in the UK but throughout Europe.

While much has remained unclear, the release of a position paper by the European Commission in September has given us the first insight into how Europe plans to approach IP issues following Brexit.

The paper itself focuses on IPR with unitary characters which in this case is European Trade Marks, Registered and Unregistered Designs and Geographical Indications and sets out some main principles:

Unitary Character Rights

Any IPR having unitary character and granted before the date of withdrawal should still be recognised as an enforceable IP right. The holder of this right should continue to be recognised and incur no further expense other than what is in line with normal IP protection. This protection should also cover geographical indications.

Any application again submitted before the withdrawal date or whose application is pending by this date should still uphold the right to a priority date if claimed in the application.

How other IP rights should be handled

Any application or extension of a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) made before the withdrawal date should still have continued protection

In the case of exhaustion rights, if they have occurred in the EU before the withdrawal date, those rights should remain exhausted following Brexit in both the UK and the remaining EU member states.

With regards to Databases, legal protection for right-holders will continue following Brexit in both the UK and the EU.

 While the main principles of this paper are not set in stone but more an outlined approach to Brexit and IP, it should be welcomed by IP holders as it provides some form of clarity and understanding of how their rights will likely be handled in the UK and EU marketplace.  

What now remains to be seen is what the UK’s response will be to this paper.


Cruickshank would advise their clients to contact us regarding individual IP portfolios where we can comment specifically on how to move forward and retain protection in the UK along with the wider EU member states.

Please feel free to contact us regarding any queries.