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April 01
Uncertainty Remains for Elected Officials, Businesses, and Citizens Alike as Initial Brexit Date Came and Went
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Will Brexit still happen and what does it mean for IP Professionals? Uncertainty remains as the intial Brexit day has passed. 

On March 21, the 27 EU heads of States and governments granted UK Prime Minister Theresa May an extension of the Brexit date beyond March 29, but with a condition. Read the Brexit Update in the April 1 INTA Bulletin​​ for the details. 

Will Brexit happen? 

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.)  generated significant confusion since no alternative option reached a majority. 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. This leaves heightened uncertainty while the EU is planning to hold an Extraordinary Summit on April 10 to discuss the issue.

When will Brexit happen? 

The UK Parliament passed legislation postponing the Brexit date from March 29 to at least April 12. The third rejection of the deal by the UK Parliament would hint towards a Brexit date on April 12, as per the conditions set by the EU. But the EU Summit on April 10 could grant a longer extension. Moreover, UK snap elections cannot be ruled out, which could lead to the formation of a new government and parliamentary majority that could end the Brexit process altogether. 

What does it mean for IP professionals?

While uncertainty remains, both the UK and the EU have tried to prepare for the following options.

Option One: ‘No-Fault Divorce’ 

If Brexit happens, and the UK Parliament ultimately adopts the draft deal on the withdrawal agreement, the ‘divorce’ will be governed by the provisions foreseen in the agreement, with a transition period set to end on December 31, 2020.

IP issues will be governed by Title IV (articles 54 to 61) of the draft agreement:

  • The main principle put forward is “continued protection in the United Kingdom of registered or granted rights.” 
  • The regional exhaustion principle is maintained in the draft agreement, stating, “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.” 
  • For GIs, the UK will grant automatic rights to EU GIs “as from the end of the transition period,” until a future relationship is established.
  • Registration of trademarks and designs will be carried out free of charge and IP right-holders will “not be required to introduce an application or to undertake any particular administrative procedure,” or be required to “have a correspondence address in the United Kingdom in the 3 years following the end of the transition period.”

Option Two: Divorce “with Fault”

If Brexit happens but the UK Parliament does not adopt the draft deal, the UK will exit without a deal. This scenario, known as the “cliff-edge,” means that from the date of Brexit, the UK will become a third-party overnight. Though, this scenario raises concerns over legal continuity and certainty on various issues, the EU and UK authorities respectively tried to prepare for this ‘no deal’ scenario.

On the EU side, the EU Commission published several ‘preparedness communications’ as well as direct links to national preparedness websites. None of them target IP specifically.

The UK has developed several ‘no deal’ instruments. Check out the resources below. 
For a comprehensive and detailed analysis of INTA’s actions and positions on Brexit, please visit INTA Brexit topic portal​ online. For any additional queries, please contact INTA Europe Office Chief Representative Officer, Hélène Nicora, at hnicora@inta.org  

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