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Life after Brexit: Key changes in legislation for IP including design rights, trade marks and copyright

When the transition period ends on 31st December 2020, key changes will come into effect which have an impact on how businesses protect their intellectual property.  Whilst some IP protection will be replicated in the UK, action is needed for other elements.  So, what is changing and how will it impact on your business?

Address for service

This is the address used to correspond with the UK IPO and can be a business address or that of a UK-based solicitor or a recognised legal representative.  From 1 January 2021, if you file an application to register a UK trade mark or a UK design right with the UKIPO, you must use an address for service in the UK (which won’t be an issue if you use a UK-based solicitor to assist you in the application process).  There are different requirements if an application commenced before 1 January 2021.

UK solicitors will still be able to act for businesses before the EU IPO in certain circumstances, but may have to liaise with EU attorneys for some matters. Our network of attorneys across the EU, and the rest of the world, enables us to provide you with a ‘one stop shop’ for global trade mark and design management and protection. 

Trade marks

From 1 January, European trade marks (EUTM) will no longer be enforceable in the UK.  The IPO will therefore create a comparable UK trade mark for each EUTM that has been registered by the end of 2020.  There is no need to apply for this and no fee to pay.  If you have an application for a EUTM which has not yet been registered, you will have the first nine months of 2021 to apply to extend the protection into the UK.  There may however be a fee payable during this nine-month period.

Registered design rights

Much like trade marks, the IPO will create a re-registered design right for every Registered Community Design (RCD) which will have the same status as if it had been applied for under UK law.  Again, there is no need to file an application or pay a fee for this service.


The European Patent Office (EPO) is not an EU agency and leaving the EU therefore does not affect the current system.  You will still be able to apply for new patents and existing ones covering the UK will remain unaffected by Brexit.


The international treaties on copyright mean that most UK copyright will remain protected in the UK and EU.  This includes books, music and films but excludes other things including online content, satellite broadcasts and database rights. 

A link to the full government guidance on protecting IP after Brexit can be found here.

Protecting your intellectual property is crucial as it is often a significant asset within a business.  Whilst some protection will be reproduced in the UK, such as registered design rights or registered trade marks, specialist advice should be sought to ensure that you have the correct protection in place to robustly protect your intellectual property.

For more information about protecting your intellectual property, contact Iain Garfield (iain.garfield@bpe.co.uk or 01242 248246) or Riyaz Jariwalla (riyaz.jariwalla@bpe.co.uk or 01242 248426) for specialist intellectual property support for your business.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. 

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