What are the upcoming changes to Intellectual Property rights and how do you protect your IP rights in the EU from 2021? Innovation Development Manager Clare Cornes outlines what you need to consider.
As the UK nears the end of the EU Transition period, many questions remain regarding the impact on British businesses. One area of particular concern is Intellectual Property (IP) and protecting IP moving forwards in the UK and in Europe. To reduce the impact to your business as much as possible, consider:
- What protection you already have in place and how these may change from 1 January 2021
- What your business strategy regarding IP is moving forwards, including funding in place for additional applications if required.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has prepared guidance on the changes, some of which will be summarised in the sections below. For the guidance in full, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/intellectual-property-after-1-january-2021
Changes to IP rights
Following the end of the EU Transition period, the IPO will create a comparable UK trademark for all registered EU trademarks. These trademarks will have the same legal status as if they were applied for and registered under UK law, will be recorded on a UK trademark register and will be a fully independent from EU trademarks. Businesses with registered EU trademarks will not need to apply for this and no fee will be required. Details of the trademark will be accessible via gov.uk that can be used as evidence.
Those with applications for EU trademarks that have been not been registered by 31 December 2020 will have nine months to apply for the UK trade protection. The application will be subject to UK examination and applications fees will be in place.
Similar to trademark changes, the IPO will create a re-registered design for every Registered Community Design (RCD). This means that these designs will be recorded on a UK designs register, will have the same legal status as if it had been applied for under UK law and will be an independent design that be challenged, assigned, licensed or renewed separately from the original RCD. No application will be required for these designs and details will be accessible via gov.uk.
Businesses with outstanding applications for RCDs which have not been registered (or have deferred publication at the end of the transition period) will have nine months to apply for UK protection.
European patents can be applied for via the IPO or directly to the European Patent Office. These patents will protect your IP in more than 30 countries in Europe (a non-EU arrangement). European patent attorneys based in the UK can continue to represent applicants to the European Patent Office.
The majority of UK copyright works will continue to be protect in the EU and the UK, due to the UK’s participation in the international treaties on copyright. This is also the case for EU copyright works in the UK and is not impacted by the UK’s transition out of the European Union. Cross-border copyright arrangements that are unique to EU member states will stop at the end of the transition period.
Protecting IP rights in the EU
As highlighted above, at the end of the transition period changes will be coming into force. If you are intending to protect your IP in the EU, the IPO recommends:
- Holding an Application for Action in the EU and the UK (two applications in total)
- Checking the EU EUROPA website for guidance on protecting IP rights in one (or more) EU member states, if you are making an application to the UK for IP rights protection in EU countries: https://europa.eu/youreurope/business/running-business/intellectual-property/infringement/index_en.htm
- Checking HMRC’s new application process to protect IP rights at the UK’s borders: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-action-to-protect-your-intellectual-property-rights#before-you-apply
- Making a new Application for Action if an application in another EU country for IP protection in the UK has been made before the end of the transition period.
The summary provided here details on some of the changes that will be taking place. For more information on unregistered designs, international trademarks and designs, Supplementary Protection Certificates and geographical indications, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/intellectual-property-after-1-january-2021
IP support available
Whilst changes will be taking place, you do not need to work through them alone. GC Business Growth Hub has advisors that can support you when navigating IP – and other – EU Transition- related changes that will affect how and where your business operates moving forwards. Reach out to your business advisor today to find out what support is available and how you can access it.
Do you need support with your Intellectual Property (IP)? Contact GC Business Growth Hub now at 0161 359 3050 or BGHinnovation@growthco.uk.
About the author
Clare Cornes, Innovation Development Manager (University of Salford)
Clare joined the Business Growth Hub as the Innovation Development Manager for the University of Salford in July 2019. Within this position, Clare uses her passion for new technologies and innovation to support SMEs in working with the University.
Prior to this role, Clare has led an autonomous vehicle development and trials programme for a British automotive manufacturer; managed multiple UK and European funded projects that utilised new technologies to improve local challenges; written national and international position papers analysing new innovations in relation to health and sustainable transport initiatives; and inputted into regional transport strategies to ensure new technologies are considered when designing schemes to solve city region challenges.
Alongside professional roles, Clare is also undertaking a PhD in her spare time, researching the barriers and challenges associated with implementing a sustainable Mobility as a Service (MaaS) system in Greater Manchester, including the policy and regulatory considerations. The research includes understanding what MaaS means in practical terms for transport planners, policy makers, related businesses and users. Through this experience, Clare has developed a skill for translating technical developments into socio-economic impacts and is keen to support SMEs developing innovative products and services as part of their business growth.