As with so much else at the moment, the UK’s timetable for withdrawal from the European Union following the current transition period has been thrown into uncertainty by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, our clients and international associates can rest assured that in all possible Brexit scenarios, Harrison IP will remain your reliable partner in all UK and EU-level work.

Trade Marks and Registered Designs

During the transition period, everything continues as normal for trade marks, in that we can continue to file EU marks and they continue to cover the UK.  After the end of the transition, currently diarised for 1 January 2021 but subject to extension, EU applications will no longer cover the UK. On that day, all EU registrations will automatically be cloned onto the UK system and a separate UK national registration, with its own number but identical in all other particulars to the EU mark, including the original EU priority date, will be “cloned” onto the UK Register.

This cloning will be an automatic process, which can be opted out of, if a separate UK right is not needed.  We will let you have details of the opt-out process in due course, so that you can review yours or clients’ EU registrations and make a decision on each.

The same mechanism will apply to EU registered designs and EU granted designations filed under the Madrid Protocol or under the Hague system.

Pending applications

For EU applications which are still pending on expiry of the transition period, there will be a nine-month period within which to request a corresponding UK application bearing the same filing data as the EU application.  There will be a fee payable for this, which we will confirm once we know the mechanics.

The same mechanism will apply to EU pending designations / or pending/deferred designs filed under the Madrid Protocol or under the Hague system.

Representation

After the end of the transition period, UK practitioners will only be permitted to remain representative for ongoing procedures such as oppositions.  For new matters, an EU representative will be needed.

In anticipation of this change, Harrison IP has set up a French subsidiary, which will be our EU representative before the EUIPO.  As the year progresses, we will start to use the French arm for new EUIPO applications and procedures.  The change will be administrative only, as we will all continue to do the actual EU work, as we do now, so there will be no change visible to you / your clients, save for the representative name and address being our French attorney Anne Lacaze-Masmonteil and French office.

Patents

No changes to European Patents are caused by Brexit.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) is not connected in any way with the EU, and includes a number of signatory countries that are not EU members (such as Albania and Turkey).

As such, it’ll be business as usual for patents in all Brexit scenarios, and Harrison IP can and will continue to represent you or your clients before EPO, and to prosecute European applications in our native English.