What Does Brexit Mean For Your Intellectual Property Rights?

brexit intellectual property rights

With the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020, do you know the implications for your intellectual property rights? How can you ensure continued intellectual property protection in both the UK and EU?

Here we summarise what will stay the same and what will change from 1 January 2021.


While Brexit will have no immediate impact on copyright protection in the UK, there is clear scope for divergence. The UK government has already indicated that it has no plans to implement the controversial EU Copyright Directive.

International treaties on copyright will ensure that the scope of protection granted in the UK to copyright works created and owned by foreign nationals and companies will remain largely unchanged.

Database Rights

Existing sui generis database rights will continue to be protected in the UK, and rights owned by UK nationals that qualified for protection in EU member states before 31 December 2020 will also continue to be protected.


Existing Registered Community Designs (RCDs) and unregistered Community designs (UCDs) will no longer be valid in the UK. These rights will be automatically replaced by comparable UK rights. All existing RCDs, UCDs and International (EU) designs will continue to cover the remaining EU member states. If you have a pending RCD application, you will be able to apply to register a UK design within 9 months after the end of the Transition Period.


The UK has confirmed it will not seek membership of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court post-Brexit. UK national patents via the UK Intellectual Property Office and European patents via the European Patent Office will remain unaffected by Brexit since they are independent from EU membership.

Plant Variety Rights

Granted Community Plant Variety Rights (CPVRs) will be automatically transferred onto the UK Plant Breeders’ Right (UK PBR) register without any fee. If you have a pending CPVR application, you will be required to file a UK application for protection in the UK. Pending and granted CPVRs will continue in the remaining 27 EU member states.

Trade Marks

Existing EU trade marks, and international registrations designating the EU, will no longer be valid in the UK. The UK has confirmed owners of EU trade marks registered before 31 December 2020 will automatically be granted a new UK equivalent right.

From 1 January 2021, brand owners seeking protection in the UK will have to file a separate UK application.

Brexit will have no impact on UK trade marks.

Trade Secrets

The UK has already implemented the EU Trade Secrets Directive, so UK trade secrets laws will be unaffected in the immediate future.

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