Brexit, The UK/EU Agreement and Design Rights

The full text of the UK/EU Deal following the transition period can be found here.

  • For designers, it means that Unregistered design rights are unaffected but with the following caveat: What was a UK UDR before Brexit remains one as does a European Community Unregistered Design (EUCD).
  • But what has changed is that a design first published in the UK does not qualify for EU protection as an EUCD.
  • So, if a UK citizen first publishes their design in an EU territory, they still have the benefit of EU protection, but only get the UK protection through the supplementary unregistered design rights for three years.
  • In other words, as had already been announced, UK designers have lost automatic protection of unregistered designs in EU27 despite ACID’s best efforts to ensure it was included in the text. (more information here)

Dids Macdonald, OBE., CEO of ACID said, “We were grateful to the Minister for Intellectual Property the Rt Hon. Amanda Solloway who told us, as members of the Alliance for IP, that there are 57 articles in the IP Chapter which is one of the longest chapters in the agreement.  It covers all rights including co-operation on enforcement.  The only major omission is in relation to database rights (and design rights and exhaustion), the agreement does include Artist Resale Rights an omission from the original UK text.  There is importantly a commitment on co-operation on enforcement which is good news and also continuing membership of the EU IP Observatory.  There will also be a dialogue committee on IP.  

Whilst the loss of EU/UK reciprocity of unregistered design rights for UK designers is a significant set-back post Brexit, however, ACID will continue dialogue with Government to ensure that the subject of simultaneous publication of unregistered UK and EU design rights remains open for future negotiation”

67.The Agreement includes precedented commitments on Intellectual Property (IP) that provide high standards of protection for, and enforcement of, IP rights. These include registered IP rights such as patents, trade marks and designs, and unregistered rights such as copyright, trade secrets and unregistered designs. These provisions refer to, and in many areas exceed, the standards set out in international agreements such as the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties.

68.The Agreement includes mechanisms for cooperation and exchange of information on IP issues of mutual interest. The Agreement also retains regulatory flexibility for each Party, enabling the UK to develop an IP system in line with our domestic priorities.

69.With respect to Geographical Indications (GIs), the Agreement enables both Parties to set their own rules and the future directions of their respective schemes. The UK and EU have agreed a review clause on GIs, which provides that the UK and EU may, if both Parties agree it is in their interests, use reasonable endeavours to agree rules for the protection and domestic enforcement of their GIs.