8 March 2019

Sheffield Business and IP Centre: IP Rights and Brexit

IP Rights and Brexit from Jane Lambert

One of four things has to happen between now and the 29 of this month:
  • The withdrawal agreement that art 50 (2) of the Treaty on European European Union required the EU and UK to negotiate and conclude may be approved by Parliament in which case we shall leave the EU on the 29 but EU law will remain in force until 31 Dec 2020 at the earliest;
  • The Prime Ministers notice of intention to leave the EU may be revoked in which case everything will remain the same forever;
  • The UK and remaining EU member states may agree to extend the 2-year notice period in accordance with art 50 (3) in which case everything will remain the same as it is now until the end of that further period; or
  • Nothing may be done between now and the 29 of this month in which case the UK will leave the EU at 23:00 on the 29 and EU law will cease to apply.
We shall not learn which of those four will happen until 12 March at the earliest and perhaps not even then if the withdrawal agreement is voted down again.

My presentation to Sheffield Business and IP Centre at Sheffield Central Library on 6 March 2019 considered the consequences for IP of each of the four scenarios.  It analysed the IP provisions of the draft withdrawal agreement which will be implemented under draft secondary legislation pursuant to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 from midnight on 1 Jan 2021 at the latest if that agreement is approved by Parliament.   Such secondary legislation will come into effect at 23:00 on 29 March 2019 if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement.  The legislation will not be needed at all if the 2017 notice is revoked.  Its implementation will be delayed until at least the end of the extension period if the 2-year notice is extended.

The presentation considers the future of the Unified Patent Court and the unitary patent.   If the 2017 notice is revoked the UPC Agreement could come into force with continued British participation so long as a challenge to the constitutionality of  German certification in the German Constitutional Court is defeated. If the notice period is extended or a withdrawal agreement is approved by Parliament continued British participation may be possible.   It is highly unlikely if the EU leaves without an agreement.

The draft secondary legislation provides for the conversion of EU trade marks and Community designs and plant varieties into corresponding national rights.  EU legislation on supplemental protection certificates and compulsory licences will be incorporated into national law.  But the Brussels Regulation and Lugano Convention could fall away without a withdrawal agreement and English and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish courts will lose the right to seek preliminary rulings on the interpretation of EU law from the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Should anyone wish to discuss this presentation or the effect of Brexit on IP rights generally, they should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.