Brexit’s Flexible Extension, Intellectual Property, and Climate Change

Published: April 15, 2019

Brexit: Uncertainty Extended Until October 31

Originally due to take place on March 29, 2019, Brexit could now be extended for another seven months-until October 31. All options are still on the table, including yet another vote on the ratification of the withdrawal agreement, a “no-deal” Brexit, a second referendum, or snap elections. Even another extension after October 31 cannot be ruled out. This leaves governments, businesses, brand owners, and citizens once more facing the same familiar scenario-uncertainty.

What’s the latest at the political level? Following a third rejection of the draft withdrawal agreement by the UK Parliament on March 29, as well as the incapacity of UK Members of Parliament to find a majority on an alternative scenario (new referendum, UK maintained in the Customs Union, UK maintained in the single market, stopping Brexit, etc.), the EU conveyed an extraordinary Summit of the 27 EU heads of state and government on April 10. The Summit’s purpose was to discuss a possible extension of the Brexit date beyond April 12, which was the date previously set in case there was no ratification of the deal by the UK Parliament by March 29.

Prior to the Summit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May asked for such an extension until June 30. The 27 EU heads of state and government decided to provide for a flexible further extension, that is, “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 21, the UK “must” hold European elections. If it fails to abide by such obligation, “the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019”;
  • There is “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.

The ball remains on the UK side to try to reach a majority in the UK Parliament in support of the deal by October 31. Ahead of the EU Summit, Ms. May held discussions with the opposition Labor party to try to secure such majority, with no concrete results so far. The expectations on whether this will happen are best summarized by Ms. May’s remarks after the EU Summit: “I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy, or there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament.” In the meantime, all other options are still hanging in the balance.

What INTA is doing: INTA led a coordination meeting in London, on March 29, with other users’ associations, namely the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the IP BAR Association, IP Federation, The Law Society, Intellectual Property Lawyers Association, 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.

For INTA’s positions and actions, and much more-please visit INTA’s dedicated Brexit topic portal.

IP and Climate Change Summit in France

In line with the 2019 focus on brands in society, INTA explored new grounds by speaking for the first time at the IP and Climate Change Summit on March 25, entitled “Industrial property and climate change, what opportunities now?”, organized by the French Association for Industrial Property Counsels (CNCPI) with the support of Fabrice Mattei (Climate Change and IP Group Head, Rouse) in the prestigious French National Assembly building in Paris, France.

Look for a post in the INTA Blog late this week for more about this event, which INTA Europe Office Chief representative Officer Hélène Nicora moderated.

Recent INTA Activities in Europe

  • March 18 – Student engagement: Students from the Madrid’s Instituto de Empresa Law School visited INTA’s Brussels Office. Stéphanie De Smedt (Loyens & Loeff, Belgium), member of the Young Practitioners – Outreach Subcommittee, brought future legal professionals closer to intellectual property (IP) and trademark law with an engaging presentation. A report will be posted in the INTA Blog.
  • March 27 – SMEs: Hadrien Valembois, INTA Policy Officer, Europe Office, and Marta Bosio, INTA Intern – Membership and Communications, Europe Office, attended, in Brussels, the International IPR Stakeholders Meeting 2019. Doing Business in China, South-East Asia and Latin-America: the importance of IP for SMEs, organized by the EU IPR Helpdesks in China, South-East Asia, and Latin America. Discussion touched upon tools and services offered to SMEs on the ground (trainings, diagnostic toolkit, updated and new guides; tear-out supplement; recent IP news, etc.).
  • March 29 – EUTMD: Richard Milchior (SCP Herald, France) and Mr. Valembois attended a meeting organized by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance in Paris to discuss the French implementation of the EU Trademark Directive, for which INTA provided comments. Notable topics included collective and certification marks, as well as the proposed exclusive competence of the French IPO for the revocation and invalidity, which INTA opposes in favor of administrative procedures as an alternative to judicial ones.
  • April 2-5 – EUIPO: Paola Ruggiero (Bird & Bird, Italy) and Carolina Oliveira, INTA, Policy Officer, Europe Office, attended the 21st Liaison Meeting on Trade Marks and 26th User Group Meeting at the EUIPO in Alicante, Spain. Topics included the draft EUIPO strategic plan 2025, an update on European and international cooperation projects and initiatives, and the New Generation Guidelines on Trademarks and Designs for which a stakeholders’ consultation is open until July 1.
  • April 8-11 – Observatory: The EU Observatory’s Working Groups and Expert Groups meetings took place at the EUIPO in Alicante, Spain. It was the first-ever meeting of the newly created Expert Groups (Legal; International cooperation; Cooperation with intermediaries; SMEs; Observatory outreach where INTA is represented; and Impact of technology). The meetings included the presentation of the groups as well as of the work streams and projects.
  • April 11 – WIPO, WTO: David Lossignol, INTA 2019 President; Etienne Sanz de Acedo, INTA CEO, Ms. Nicora, INTA Chief Representative, Europe; Tat-Tienne Louembe, INTA Representative, Africa, Middle East and Intergovernmental Organizations; and Bruno Machado, INTA Geneva Representative, met with the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Francis Gurry, and several staff members, as well as representatives of the EU Permanent Delegation to the United Nations and the U.S. Permanent Missions to the United Nations and the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Topics discussed included trademarks, geographical indications and designs, and their evolution within the respective bodies.

Looking Ahead – Important Upcoming Events to Keep in Mind

  • April 24 – INTA Pre-Annual Meeting reception in Stockholm, Sweden
  • April 30 The EU Commission extended the deadline of its public consultation on the evaluation of EU legislation on design protection. INTA will provide input, and is also exchanging with ECTA and Marques, following the submission of the joint paper in July 2018.
  • May 23-26 European Elections
  • End of May-Early June (date TBC) Joint EU Commission’s DG TAXUD-EU Observatory Customs Seminar in the presence of China Customs in Alicante, Spain
  • June 12-13 – EUIPO International Forum on IP Enforcement in Paris, France
  • June 18-19 Europol IP Crime Conference in MÁlaga, Spain
  • July 2 INTA Policy Dialogue on “Reinforcing the Protection of IPRs against Online Counterfeiting: Challenges and Remedies in the Digital Age” in Milan, Italy. The event is co-organized with the Italian IP Office (UIBM).
  • September 15-17 INTA Trademark Administrators and Practitioners (TMAP) Meeting – Berlin, Germany
  • November 1 Start of the mandate of the new EU Commission (2019-2024)
  • December 1 Election of the new President of the Council (27 EU member-states)

Brexit in Detail at INTA’s 2019 Annual Meeting

Learn more about the implications and further likely changes of Brexit at INTA’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, May 18-22. An information-packed session titled The Implications for Trademarks in the United Kingdom and the European Union will explore the topic in depth. Find out more and register here.

INTA’s Europe Representative Office, based in Brussels, Belgium, represents the Association’s 1,800+ members across Europe (including those in EU and non-EU member states, and Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States). Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, the Europe Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives throughout the region. To learn more about INTA’s activities in Europe, please contact INTA Chief Europe Representative Officer Hélène Nicora at [email protected] and follow us on Twitter at @INTABrussels.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2019 International Trademark Association