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Brexit – a guide to protecting your rights from 1 January 2021

15 December 2020

Like many other areas of law, intellectual property (IP) will undergo a raft of changes overnight, when the Brexit transition period expires on December 31 2020.

Until now, IP law has largely been harmonised across the EU, with rights such as European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs) and Registered Community Designs (RCDs) offering pan-European protection.

From the start of 2021, this will change and over the coming years, with the UK and EU acting autonomously, it is likely that the two regimes will begin to diverge, possibly significantly.

Whilst some changes will take time to manifest, the key areas of change to expect from 1 January 2021 are:

  • The scope of registered and unregistered EU rights.
  • Parallel imports and the exhaustion of rights
  • The enforceability of judgments granted by the UK Courts, and
  • The ability of the UK Courts to grant pan-European remedies, including injunctions.

Whilst the Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed between the UK and the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) contains some IP specific provisions, uncertainty remains in some areas. 

The purpose of this note is to inform businesses what we know for certain, what we can perhaps expect, from both 1 January 2021and in the longer term, and to provide practical tips on how best to prepare for the forthcoming changes.

Brexit IP RPC law