On November 14, 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have finally succeeded in agreeing on a draft deal on the withdrawal agreement (the ‘divorce’ phase). This agreement in principle between the EU and UK negotiators paves the way for the formal adoption of the agreement by the UK government and the European Union, respectively. To provide further reinsurances to the UK sides, both parties adopted, on March 11, a ‘Instrument relating to the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’ which provides “a clear and unambiguous statement by both parties to the Withdrawal Agreement of what they agreed in a number of provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement”, “ a document of reference that will have to be made use of if any issue arises in the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement” and has “legal force and a binding character”. It notably provides clarification on the ‘backstop’ scheme with regards Northern Ireland.
For the EU, the General Affairs Council (EU27 Ministers in charge of EU affairs) backed the deal on November 19. The EU27 Heads of States and Governments then adopted it – together with a political declaration on the setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom – during an extraordinary Summit on November 25. On March 11, to provide reinsurances to the UK side, both parties adopted a joint statement supplementing the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom of great Britain and Northern Ireland (i.e. on the ‘future relation’). The statement reiterates the “shared ambition to have the future relationship in place by the end of the transition period” and that “immediately following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, they will take the steps necessary to begin formal negotiations”. Moreover, they stressed their “firm commitment to work at speed on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements such that the backstop solution in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will not need to be applied.” During the EU Summit on March 21, the 27 EU heads of States and Government agreed to an extension of Article 50 until 22 May 2019. Nonetheless, such extension will be granted on the condition that “the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week.” If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and “expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council.”Following the third rejection of the deal by the UK Parliament on March 29, the EU27 held an extraordinary Summit on April 10 to decide to provide for a flexible further extension, i.e. “as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October 2019”. The EU27 will “review the progress” in the next EU Summit on June 20-21. On its end, the EU Parliament has yet to adopt the deal with a simple majority but only as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without the possibility to amend it. This will need to occur by April 18 under the current EU Parliament or, after the EU elections, in July or after under the new EU Parliament. There is no role for national parliaments of the 27 member states in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement.
On the UK side, Prime Minister Theresa May faced a severe defeat with the rejection, by the UK Parliament on January 15, of the Brexit deal by a strong majority (432 against, 202 in favor). The Prime Minister then proposed, on January 21, an alternate plan, including notably "alternative arrangements" to the controversial Irish backstop plan. On January 29, the UK parliament debated Ms. May’s alternative plan and voted against a proposal to delay the Brexit while voting in favor of Ms. May re-opening the negotiations with the EU on the 'backstop'. On March 12-14, she faced a series of defeats in a succession of votes on Brexit: On March 12, the UK MPs rejected the “divorce” agreement by a substantial majority of 391 votes to 242, though by a thinner margin than during the first vote on the deal in January (432 to 202). On March 13, the UK MPs voted with a very narrow majority (312 to 308) to reject a “no-deal” Brexit under any circumstances. That vote, however, is not binding; that is, under current law, the UK could still leave without a deal on March 29. On March 14, the UK Parliament voted with a strong majority (413 votes to 202 votes), to ask for an extension of article 50, thereby delaying Brexit beyond March 29.Following the March 21 EU Summit, Ms. May faced a third defeat with the rejection (by 54 votes) by the UK Parliament of the deal for a third time. Faced with a flexible extension of Brexit “as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October 2019” decided by the EU27, while she initially requested June 30, Ms. May started discussions with the opposition, the Labour party, to try to secure a majority to back the deal in the UK Parliament., with no concrete results so far. Nonetheless, snap UK elections, a second referendum, a fourth vote on the deal or a no-deal Brexit cannot be ruled out.
On the other hand, the EU and the UK have yet to start negotiations on the substance of the second phase, ‘the future relationship’, on the basis of the political declaration–not binding–adopted on November 22, 2018. The ratification and adoption process will depend on the nature of the future relationship.
On March 29, 2019, the UK is expected to leave the European Union at 11pm. This will open the ‘transition period’ to last until December 31, 2020 (with one possible extension).
- During an extraordinary Summit, on April 10, the 27 EU Heads of state and government decided to provide for a flexible further extension, i.e. “as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October 2019”. Their conclusions notably imply that:
- In case the deal is not ratified by May 212, the UK “must” hold European elections. If it fails to abide by such obligation, “the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019”;
- There will “no opening of the Withdrawal Agreement” thereby de facto putting an end to any future renegotiation of the substance of the deal;
- This extension “cannot be used to start negotiations on the future relationship” but the EU leaves the door open “if the position of the United Kingdom were to evolve” without further specifying what this evolution entails;
- Progress on this issue will be “reviewed” during the EU Summit scheduled for June 20-21
- On April 5, in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May requested an extension from the EU an extension of Brexit until June 30. While stressing said it was not in the interests of either the U.K. or the EU that her country takes part in the European Parliament election scheduled for 23 to 26 May, she would undertake preparations for the poll as a “contingency.”
- On April 3, the UK Parliament (‘Commons’) voted, with a majority of just one vote, a bill obliging UK Prime Minister Theresa May to ask the EU for an extension of Brexit beyond April 12. The bill is due to be considered by the Lords on April 4 and will need its adoption to become law.
- On April 1st, the UK Parliament held another series of votes on a possible way forward (maintaining the UK in the European Customs Union, new referendum, maintain the UK in the single market, stopping Brexit) with, again, no majority reached on any option.
- On March 29, Prime Minister May, who offered her resignation if the deal was adopted, failed to get Parliament approval on the deal for a third time.
- On March 27, the UK Parliament held a series of votes on a possible way forward. These votes on the eight possible alternative scenarios (including a new referendum, the UK remaining in the Customs Union, etc.) with no alternative option reaching a majority.
- On March 21, the EU27 held a Summit in the presence of UK Prime Minister Theresa May where they adopted conclusions where they approved the joint instruments on the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration adopted on March 11. They most notably agreed to an extension of Article 50 until 22 May 2019, thereby delaying Brexit initially scheduled for March 29. Nonetheless, such extension will be granted on the condition that “the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week”. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and “expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council”.
- The UK Parliament held a series of 3 votes from March 12 to 14 on Brexit. On March 12, the UK MPs rejected the “divorce” agreement by a substantial majority of 391 votes to 242, though by a thinner margin than during the first vote on the deal in January (432 to 202). On March 13, the UK MPs voted with a very narrow majority (312 to 308) to reject a “no-deal” Brexit under any circumstances. That vote, however, is not binding; that is, under current law, the UK could still leave without a deal on March 29. Finally, on March 14, the UK Parliament voted with a strong majority (413 votes to 202 votes), to ask for an extension of article 50, thereby delaying Brexit beyond March 29.
- On March 11, in Strasbourg, the European Union and the UK agreed on an ‘Instrument relating to the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’ (i.e. on the ‘divorce’). His instrument provides “a clear and unambiguous statement by both parties to the Withdrawal Agreement of what they agreed in a number of provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement”, “ a document of reference that will have to be made use of if any issue arises in the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement” and has “legal force and a binding character”. It notably provides clarification on the ‘backstop’ scheme with regards Northern Ireland. The EU and UK also adopted a joint statement supplementing the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom of great Britain and Northern Ireland (i.e. on the ‘future relation’). The statement reiterates the “shared ambition to have the future relationship in place by the end of the transition period” and that “immediately following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, they will take the steps necessary to begin formal negotiations”. Moreover, they stressed their “firm commitment to work at speed on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements such that the backstop solution in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will not need to be applied”. Finally, the UK adopted an unilateral ‘Declaration by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol’, stressing the UK’s right to apply to an arbitration panel to exit the backstop if no agreement on the future relationship with the EU can be reached. European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May both made a press statement following these adoption.
- The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) published on March, 8, additional Brexit-related guidance to rights holders and representatives in its online “information hub on Brexit.” They are not binding legislation and simply state the practice of the EUIPO in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.
- On February 26, UK Prime Minister Theresa May made a statement to the UK Parliament’s House of Commons laying out the future series of 3 votes on Brexit: 1) A meaningful vote on the draft withdrawal agreement with new reassurances negotiated with the EU on March 12; 2) If that first vote fails to pass, on March 13, she will then put forward a motion asking the UK Parliament to vote on leaving the EU without a deal; 3) if that last motion is defeated, she will then, on March 14, propose a final motion to the vote, i.e. whether the government should “seek a short, limited extension to article 50” which could then be negotiated with the EU. If such extension is adopted, the UK government would legislate to change the exit date.
- On January 24, EURid (the registry manager of the .eu country code top-level domains upon appointment of the European Commission in 2003) published an update of its Brexit notice on .eu extension. The notice develops two scenarios: 1) .eu domain names that have GB/GI as the registrant country code; and 2) .eu domain names that have GB/GI as the registrant country code
- On January 21, UK Prime Minister Theresa May presented her alternative plan for Brexit to the UK Parliament.
- On January 18, the European Commission published an update of its notice to stakeholders on the ‘Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of civil justice and private international law’, to prepare for the possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario. It provides notably, for pending proceedings “on the withdrawal date”, “involving a defendant domiciled in the United Kingdom, and pending with a court of the EU-27 Member States on the withdrawal date, the EU rules for international jurisdiction continue to apply”. For proceedings “initiated as of the withdrawal date, “For proceedings involving a United Kingdom domiciled defendant initiated on or after the withdrawal date in the EU-27 Member States, (…) International jurisdiction will thus be governed by the national rules of the Member -State in which a court has been seized. In some instances, international conventions, such as the conventions developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law apply, provided that both the EU/EU Member States and the United Kingdom are parties to the convention.
- On January 17, the UK government published its update of the webpage ‘TM and designs if there is no deal’. The following main points are proposed for TM and designs:.
- Existing TM & registered designs:
- The principle defended by the UK government is “continued protection” for existing TM & registered designs.
- Ongoing legal disputes involving EU trademarks or registered Community designs before the UK courts : no provision – more information to follow
- Pending applications: Need to refile
- Unregistered designs: The principle defended by the UK government is “continued protection” for existing unregistered designs, first disclosed in EU27 member states and already protected by an unregistered Community design right at the point that the UK exits the EU.
- Correspondence addresses and confidentiality for UK trademarks and designs: No immediate change.
- On January 16, the UK government went on to publish an update to its ‘IP and the Facts’ webpage with the following notable points:
- There appears that not much has changed on TM (the UK “aims to ensure continuity of protection and avoid the loss of those rights” + UK retains access to Madrid system) nor designs (same on continuity for registered designs + UK retains access to the Hague system; for unregistered designs, continuity of protection + “where the UK does not have existing domestic legislation to protect certain types of rights, it will establish new schemes, which will preserve the full scope of the unregistered Community design right in the UK”)
- Right of representation: the UK is advocating in favor. An agreement is secured with the EU to guarantee it for pending cases at the time of Brexit. For the future post Brexit, it will depend on the negotiations on the future EU-UK relation.
- A section on enforcement: Recognizing the importance of enforcement and tackling IP infringements, the paragraph is however vague – to say the least – as to what the UK will do post Brexit. The approach (as much as possible “frictionless for legitimate trade”) that the UK will propose “may” involve sharing information and research on IPR enforcement, working closely with the EU Observatory on the infringement of IP Rights.
- A section on Exhaustion of IP rights: Currently aligned with the EEA regional exhaustion, the UK does not hint as to what system he will advocate next (only that exhaustion will be part of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship) and remains broad in the paragraph.
- On January 15, the UK Parliament, in a 432-202 vote, overwhelmingly defeated the Brexit deal supported by UK Prime Minister Teresa May. The Prime Minister has now only six days -until January 21- to propose an alternate plan.
- During a European summit in Brussels on December 13, 2018, the EU27 and the UK released conclusions on the Brexit that stress that the backstop to prevent a hard border with Ireland – the main bone of contention—is only “temporary” and “an insurance policy”
- UK Prime Minister Theresa May won a ‘defiance’ vote in her own party (200 in favor, 117 against) on December 11, 2018.
During a Summit on November 25, the EU27 approved the draft agreement on the divorce (a simple majority was required) as well as a political declaration on the setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The latter is a political document – not a legally binding one – for which the unanimity of the EU27 was required. This document provides the basic frame for the future relation, i.e. an “ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership”, whose nature – customs union? Free-Trade Agreement? Other? - has yet to be determined. This partnership should cover “trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defense and wider areas of cooperation”. The declaration nonetheless leaves the door open for “areas of cooperation beyond those described in this political declaration”. It includes a point VII on intellectual property (paragraphs 44-47) which notably stress that the parties should provide for IP protection and enforcement “beyond the standards of [TRIPS and WIPO] convention where relevant” as well as the “freedom to establish their own regimes for the exhaustion of intellectual property rights“. Finally, the parties agreed to “establish a mechanism for cooperation and exchange of information on intellectual property issues of mutual interest, such as respective approaches and processes regarding trademarks, designs and patents”.
On November 14, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have succeeded in agreeing on a draft deal on the withdrawal agreement (the ‘divorce’ phase). The European Commission has also published a Q&A on what’s in it here, and an Ireland and Northern Ireland-specific one here. Most of Title IV (article 54 to 61) which covers ‘intellectual property’ was already agreed in principle. Trademarks, designs, databases and even plant variety rights were addressed and agreed in principle. The main principle put forward then remains, i.e. “continued protection in the United Kingdom of registered or granted rights”. Also, the draft agreement kept its regional exhaustion principle whereas “intellectual property rights which were exhausted both in the Union and in the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period under the conditions provided for by Union law shall remain exhausted both in the Union and in the United Kingdom”. The outstanding issues – Geographical Indications (GIs), registration procedure and pending applications for supplementary protection certificates in the UK – are now agreed. For GIs, the UK will be granting automatic rights to EU GIs “as from the end of the transition period”, until a future relationship is established, though the UK will still have to pass a legislative act to enshrine GI protection into UK law. Registration will be carried out “free of charges” and IP right-holders will “not be required to introduce an application or to undertake any particular administrative procedure”, nor to “have a correspondence address in the United Kingdom in the 3 years following the end of the transition period”.
- On September 24, the UK Government published Guidance Notes related to intellectual property rights in case of a “No Deal” Brexit. These cover trademarks and designs, geographical indications, copyrights, exhaustion of rights, and patents.
- On July 23, the UK government has updated its ‘IP and BREXIT: The facts’page, including, for the first time, statements about its intentions regarding continued protection of rights (specifically in case of a ‘no-deal’ scenario).
- On July 19, the European Commission adopted a Communication (a non-legislative document) outlining the ongoing work on the preparation for all outcomes of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. Indeed, Stakeholders, as well as national and EU authorities, need to prepare for two possible main scenarios: 1) If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified before 30 March 2019, EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK on 1 January 2021, i.e. after a transition period of 21 months; 2) If the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified before 30 March 2019, there will be no transition period and EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK as of 30 March 2019. This is referred to as the "no deal" or "cliff-edge" scenario.
- On July 12, the UK government has published its long-awaited Brexit white paper which details its set of proposals regarding the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It notably stresses that the new relationship with the EU should be “broader in scope than any other that exists between the EU and a third country”. The UK is aiming for a free trade area for goods, giving frictionless border access. This would “protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and ‘just in time’ processes” with no “costly customs declarations”. This would “enable products to only undergo one set of approvals and authorisations in either market, before being sold in both”. There would be separate arrangements for services, giving the UK freedom “to chart its own path in the areas that matter most for its economy”.
- ‘Brexit’ Minister David Davis submitted his resignation on July 9 – as he believes the current status leaves the UK “in a weak position” with regards negotiations. He was then followed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Dominic Raab (former Minister for Housing and Planning) becomes the new ‘Brexit’ Minister while Jeremy Hunt (former Secretary for State for Health and Social Care) becomes the new Foreign Secretary.
- On June 28-29, EU27 heads of States and governments said they were expecting Ms. May to come up with a concrete set of proposals on what she expects from the Brexit agreement on several issues (future relationship, border with Ireland, notably). As President of the Council of the EU Donald Tusk stressed, “there is a great deal of work ahead, and the most difficult tasks are still unresolved. If we want to reach a deal in October we need quick progress. This is the last call to lay the cards on the table”.
- The UK Parliament adopted the EU Withdrawal Act on June 26. This Act enables EU law to be transferred into UK law in order to ensure a smooth Brexit. While several MPs pushed for Parliament to have a final say -a “meaningful vote”- on the Brexit agreement, their amendment was ultimately defeated
- The negotiations on the second phase - the ‘future relationship’ – opened officially on April 16-18 are ongoing – with little progress to show for- ever since, despite several rounds.
- On March 22-23, the EU27 Council formally adopted the negotiating guidelines for the second phase – the “future relationship” – of the Brexit negotiations. The EU aims at a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK, which would include “other areas of interest to the Union, for example (…) protection of intellectual property rights, including geographical indications”. Moreover, the EU stresses that “personal data protection should be governed by Union rules on adequacy with a view to ensuring a level of protection essentially equivalent to that of the Union”.
- On March 13, the UK deposited its instrument of ratification to join the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement on the International Registration of Industrial Designs. While it will come into effect on 13 June 2018, it will ensure, once Brexit occurs, that UK applicants can continue to use the system and allowing non-UK applicants to designate both the EU and the UK in one parallel application
- On February 21, the UK published its own draft text on the transition period (application of EU law in UK territory) once Brexit occurs. IP is not part of the list of provisions in Annex I for which Union law would not apply even during the transition period. The end of the transition period in the text remains 31 December 2020 as proposed by the EU.
- On March 1, the European Commission published its draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This draft translates into legal terms the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on the progress achieved during phase 1 of the negotiations, published on 8 December 2017. Intellectual property is included in a Title IV (article 50 to 57) which covers IPRs, TM, design, exhaustion of rights notably. The main principle put forward by the Commission in this IP title is “continued protection in the United Kingdom of registered or granted rights.” This draft will serve as a basis for the negotiations for the EU and will have to be addressed by the UK negotiators in order to agree on a final common text.
- On March 8, a leaked draft of the EU negotiating guidelines for the second phase of the Brexit negotiations (to be adopted during the EU27 Summit on March 22-23) was circulated. The EU aims, for its future relationship with the UK, at a regular FTA with the UK once it is out. This FTA would include notably: Zero-tariffs trade in goods; “appropriate customs cooperation, preserving the regulatory and jurisdictional autonomy of the parties and the integrity of the EU Customs Union”; “other areas of interest to the Union, for example (…) protection of intellectual property rights, including geographical indications”. On data protection, the EU stresses that “personal data protection should be governed by Union rules on adequacy with a view to ensuring a level of protection essentially equivalent to that of the Union”.
- On January 30, EU Commission’s Directorate-General For Taxation and Customs (DG TAXUD) issued a notice to stakeholders on the withdrawal of the UK and EU rules in the field of customs and indirect taxation. This 4-page notice does not mention IP but stresses that “subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, as of the withdrawal date, the EU rules in the field of customs (…)no longer apply to the United Kingdom”.
- On January 29, the EU27 General Affairs Council (all Member-States except the UK) adopted their directives setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from the European Union. These directives, to be followed by the EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier during the negotiations, indicates notably that “in line with the European Council guidelines of 15 December 2017 and with the negotiating directives annexed to the Council Decision of 22 May 2017 as supplemented by these negotiating directives, it is necessary to complete the work on all withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase. These include –without being confined to –issues such as (…) intellectual property rights, (…) customs-related matters needed for an orderly withdrawal from the Union, protection of personal data and use of information obtained or processed before the withdrawal date”. Moreover, the EU27 Council stresses that the transition period “should not last beyond 31 December 2020”.
- On January 28, 2018, the European Commission and EUIPO published their Notice to holders of and applicants for European Union trade marks pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 on the European Union trade mark and to holders of and applicants for Community designs pursuant to Regulation (EC) no 6/2002 on Community designs to provide guidance to stakeholders on trademarks and designs with regards Brexit.
- On January 9, Prime Minister Teresa May announced a –relatively limited- reshuffle of her UK government. While most senior figures remain in post (Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary or David Davis as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union), a major change was the ‘IP portfolio’ then held by Jo Johnson (then Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation) moving to Sam Gyimah, Minister of State for Higher Education.
- On December 14-15 2017, the EU27 Heads of States and government (without the UK) held a meeting where they adopted guidelines agreeing that “sufficient progress” has been achieved in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations(i.e. the ‘priority issues’: UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK, the ‘bill’ to be paid by the UK to the EU and the border with Ireland, notably, thereby opening the way to the second phase of the negotiations ( EU-UK future relationship) which should include all outstanding issues (including IP which had not been negotiated yet).
- On December 14, the EU Commission published a Notice, countersigned by EUIPO, to holders of and applicants for European Union trade marks and Registered Community Designs in the context of the notification of the intention of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, submitted on 29 March 2017.
On December 8, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached a compromise to move onto the second phase of negotiations (on the future EU-UK relationship). The compromise, enshrined in a Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government, is to be adopted by the EU27 heads of States and government during the 14-15 December EU27 Summit.
- The main issue of contention now is the timing of moving up to the next phase of negotiations (i.e. on the new relationship between the EU and the UK). While the mandate stipulates that “sufficient progress” on the ‘exit’ phase is needed to move on to the other (initially foreseen for October), the EU Commission clearly stated that there was no “sufficient progress” after the last round (a position shared by the EU Parliament in its – non-binding- resolution adopted on October 3), thereby postposing negotiations on the new relationship to December at best.
- On October 9-12, the fifth round of ‘Brexit’ negotiations between the EU and the UK took place in Brussels. The discussions once again focused on citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the border with Ireland with “no great steps forward (…) reached”. The closing joint press conference can be found here.
- On October 9, the UK has published its position paper on the future UK trade policy which merely mentions that it wishes to promote “strong IP protection” in future bilateral trade deals.
- On September 25-28, the fourth round of ‘Brexit’ negotiations between the EU and the UK took place in Brussels. The discussions focused on citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the border with Ireland. The parties published an updated Joint technical note on EU-UK position on citizens' rights. The closing joint press conference can be found here.
- On September 22, UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave her third important speech on Brexit in Florence (Italy), stressing that the UK wants a transition period (“around two years”) aimed at bridging the gap between leaving the EU in March 2019 and beginning the new trading relationship. On the financial settlement, she confirmed that “the UK will honor commitments it has made during the period of our membership”, without mentioning a number. The speech can be found here.
- On September 6, the European Commission publishes its position paper on intellectual property. The document notably recognizes that "the holder of any intellectual property right having unitary character within the Union and granted before the withdrawal date should, after that date, be recognized as the holder of an enforceable intellectual property right in relation to the United Kingdom territory, comparable to the right provided by Union law – if need be on the basis of specific domestic legislation to be introduced". It then sets the principles regarding applications for IPRs with unitary character; applications for supplementary protection certificates or for an extension of their duration; legal protection of databases; and exhaustion of rights.
- On August 28-31, the third round of ‘Brexit’ negotiations between the EU and the UK took place in Brussels. The discussions focused on citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, the border with Ireland, the overall governance of the withdrawal agreement and other separation issues (Euratom, goods placed on the market, on-going Union procedures, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters). The parties published an updated Joint technical note on EU-UK position on citizens' rights. The closing joint press conference can be found here.
- On July 17-20, the second round of ‘Brexit’ negotiations between the EU and the UK took place in Brussels. The aim of this four-day round, which took place in Brussels, was to present the respective positions). Following the round, the parties published a Joint technical note on EU-UK position on citizens' rights. The closing joint press conference can be found here.
- On June 19-20, On 19 June 2017 Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union launched the first round of Brexit negotiations. This two-day event took place in Brussels. Apart from the structure of the negotiations and forthcoming issues, the opening of negotiations focused on issues related to citizens' rights, the financial settlement, the Northern Irish border and other separation issues. The closing joint press conference can be found here.
- On April 18, UK Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early General Election, to be held on June 8.
On April 19, the UK House of Commons agreed to a motion to hold the early General Election.
- On March 29, 2017, UK Prime Minister Teresa May officially triggered Article 50 with a letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, notifying him about the UK’s intention to leave the EU. To read the full letter, please click here.
- On February 1, 2017, the House of Commons voted to advance the bill that would give Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to invoke Article 50 of the TFEU—the formal process of leaving the European Union.
- On January 17, 2017, UK Prime Minister Teresa May laid out her vision in a landmark speech. While she said that “Brexit means Brexit,” there is a lot of debate about what that will mean in practice, especially concerning the two key issues of how British firms will do business in the European Union and what limitations will be placed on the rights of EU nationals to live and work in the United Kingdom. More of her negotiating hopes can be found in in her key speech on Brexit.
- On August 2, 2016, the UKIPO published a guide entitled “IP and Brexit: the Facts,” available here.
- On June 23, 2016, a referendum was held in the United Kingdom to decide whether the United Kingdom should leave or remain in the European Union. The decision to leave won by 52% to 48%.
- On February 25 in London, INTA held an event on ‘Enforcement issues with regards Brexit’ in the presence of representatives of the UKIPO, Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) and the Department to Exit the European Union (DexEU). Discussions focused on border measures, law enforcement collaboration, UK relationship with the Observatory post Brexit, exhaustion of rights and recognition of judgments post Brexit. INTA representatives included members of the Brexit Cross-Committee Task Force, UK brand owners and members of the Anticounterfeiting committee.
- On January 24, INTA representatives met with the EU Commission’s Art. 50 Task Force (the EU negotiating body) in Brussels to discuss enforcement and .eu domain names issues with regards Brexit.
- On December 20, 2018, The International Trademark Association (INTA) sent to the UKIPO and the EU Commission two papers on the enforcement of IP rights and the .eu domain names with a set of specific recommendations to take into account in the Brexit negotiations
- On October 31, INTA provided comments to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the new proposed UK GI Scheme.
- On July 27, INTA sent to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the UK Intellectual Property Office and the European Commission its comments on Article 52 of the Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community as published by the European Commission on March 19, 2018. This document relates to the continued protection in the United Kingdom, after the transition period contemplated in the draft agreement, of international registrations of marks and designs protected in the European Union before the end of the said transition period, under the Madrid Protocol and the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement.
- In July, INTA sent a letter on the exhaustion of rights after Brexit to the UKIPO, calling for the adoption of a national (UK only) exhaustion regime, or if membership in the EEA continues, a regional exhaustion regime, provided that certain criteria are met.
- On June 14, Toe Su Aung (Elipe global, UK, Member of the Brexit Cross-committee Task Force) attended a meeting organized by the UKIPO the primary purpose of which was to discuss whether data relating to licence recordals, security interests and insolvency proceedings recorded against EUTMs and community designs at EUIPO should be ported over post-Brexit.
- INTA led a coordination meeting in London, on March 29, with other users’ associations, namely the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA), the IP BAR Association, IP Federation, The Law Society, Intellectual Property Lawyers Association (IPLA), and the British Brands Group. Discussions focused on focused on three scenarios: status quo, “no deal” Brexit, and the adoption of the Withdrawal Agreement. Exhaustion, pending proceedings, and the EUIPO guidance on Brexit were key topics discussed
- On March 29, INTA was invited, together with a few selected associations, by the UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, in charge of IP, Sam Gyimah MP, to exchange on the status of IP in the Brexit negotiations. INTA was represented by Philippa McLeod (Rolls-Royce plc, UK, Member of INTA Board of Directors, and co-leader of INTA Brexit Taskforce). This meeting provided the opportunity for INTA to reiterate its main point: IP-related issues should be treated as “technical” issues by the negotiators in order to be resolved relatively easily, pragmatically and quickly. Failure to address IP issues in a timely and appropriate manner could trigger adverse effects for businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, and consumers operating in or with the UK.
- On March 21, Giles Corbally (Bomhard IP, Spain, Legislation & Regulation Committee- Europe and Central Asia Subcommittee, Liaison to INTA Brexit Task Force) and INTA Europe Office Chief Representative Officer Hélène Nicora attended, together with other user associations, the ‘EU Exit Update’ organized by the UKIPO to discuss the latest draft withdrawal agreement.
- A high-level delegation, composed of INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo; Board of Directors Member Philippa McLeod (Rolls-Royce plc, UK); Mireille Valvason (Novartis, Switzerland); Jeremy Newman (Rouse, UK, Chair of INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee); and INTA Chief Representative Officer ‒ Europe Hélène Nicora, to meet with UK authorities in London on February 26‒28. The delegation met with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Justice Arnold, the Chartered Institute for Trade Marks Attorneys, and the Chartered Institute for Patent Attorneys. INTA’s delegation promoted its Brexit position paper, adopted by the Board in November 2017, and insisted that most IP-related issues, since they were neither controversial nor political, could be relatively easily and quickly resolved. However, failure to address them in a timely and appropriate manner could trigger adverse effects for businesses and SMEs operating in or with the UK.
- The INTA Board of Directors on November 7, 2017 approved a position paper drafted by the Brexit Cross-Committee Task Force, which forms the basis of INTA’s advocacy efforts. The position paper outlines core general principles and specific recommendations related to IP for both the UK and the EU-27 regarding the negotiations concerning the exit of the UK from the EU . It is publicly available here.
- In March 2017, recognizing the need to further advocate for strong IP protection and harmonization as the process of Brexit negotiations unfolds, INTA formed a Brexit Cross-Committee Taskforce to make recommendations on issues of particular concern to INTA. The Brexit Cross-Committee Taskforce consists of volunteers from the Legislation and Regulation Committee/Europe and Central Asia Subcommittee, Trademark Office Practices Committee/European National TM Offices Subcommittee, Trademark Office Practices Committee/EUIPO Subcommittee, Trademark Office Practices Committee/Madrid System Subcommittee, Anticounterfeiting Committee/EU Subcommittee, Parallel Imports Committee, Designs Committee, and Geographical Indications Committee.
- In March 2017, INTA published the Brexit Brands Toolkit: Preparing Brand Owners for Brexit. Drafted by INTA’s Brexit Rapid Response Group, this document serves as a guide for companies on key Brexit issues and on determining the allocation of sufficient resources to prepare a company’s brands for Brexit.
- In 2016 and 2017, INTA has been represented at various meetings with the UKIPO to exchange on the impact of Brexit on brands and IP rights, and assess the various possible approaches.
- In October 2016, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo met with corporate representatives in London to exchange their concerns about Brexit. The event was organized by INTA members Elipe Limited and Mathys & Squire LLP.
- The Rapid Response Group is composed of Anna Carboni (Redd Solicitors LLP), Michael Hawkins (Noerr Alicante IP, S.L.), Sheila Henderson (Richemont), Keith Howick (Carpmaels & Ransford), Sarah Lambeth (BP plc), Jeremy Newman (Rouse) and Zorita Pop (Reckitt Benckiser plc).
- On June 24, 2016, a media statement by INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo announced the formation of a Brexit Rapid Response Group to advise INTA following the UK referendum on EU membership.