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Brexit and SME businesses – prepare now to protect your intellectual property and trademarks

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As the UK moves steadily closer to March 2019’s formal exit from the European Union, it is important that businesses across all sectors and of all sizes understand the impact that Brexit may have on their intellectual property and trademarks, and to make necessary changes now to help mitigate against possible legal action and litigation in future. SME’s (Small and Medium size Entities) make up over 98% of the UK’s 5.7m private sector businesses, employing over 16m people and representing £1.9 trillion in turnover p/a. The main issues for SME’s to consider and address in the run-up to Brexit from an IP and trademark perspective include:

  1. Contracts – the issue here is the effect that Brexit will have on current IP licences and agreements. Current licence wordings in use may include “the territory of the EU” – in this case, what does this wording cover post-Brexit? To minimise trading uncertainty, SME’s should ensure that current and new agreements or licences are properly negotiated to reflect the UK’s departure.

  2. Patents – there is less to be concerned about here when it comes to registering and protecting patents. Inventions filed at the UK Intellectual Property will still cover the UK in the usual way, and if the patent is also filed at the European Patent Office – which isn’t covered by EU legislation – then this will also apply throughout Europe.

  3. Trade Marks – any SME’s holding an existing EU Trade mark (EUTM) should monitor what protection this may or may not provide post-Brexit. If the UK Government does not agree an automatic transfer of existing rights, then EUTM holders will likely need to re-apply to maintain their current protections.

  4. Registered Community Designs – RCD’s are similar to EUTM’s, providing design protection throughout the EU that cover a huge variety of areas, from physically manufactured objects through to protected elements used in a businesses’ or brands own designs. If an SME currently has RCD protection, this will no longer apply post-Brexit and steps should be taken to ensure continuing protection.

If you or your business have suffered from a trademark or intellectual property dispute or  infringement, our experienced team at Advantage may be able to help – call us on 0800 160 1298 or by email here.

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