The UK and EU have now concluded a trade and cooperation agreement (“the TCA”) which brings changes to the intellectual property (“IP”) law applicable to the UK.

The TCA sets out the minimum standards on protection and enforcement to which the UK and EU remain committed. For example, the TCA says that the UK and EU affirm their commitment to comply with various international agreements to which they are currently parties. These agreements mean that, for example, much of UK copyright works remains protected in the EU and the UK.

What are the main changes to the UK IP regime?  

The status quo is, in some ways, unchanged. Brexit does not affect European patents, EU trade marks and design rights registered before 31 December 2020 remain enforceable in the UK and copyright law will not be significantly changed. There are, however, a number of important changes to the IP laws applicable to the UK and the scope for further divergence between the UK and the EU in the future. A number of key changes are set out below.

  1. UK law can diverge from EU precedent as EU precedent will no longer bind the UK courts.
  2. From 1 January 2021, any new EU trade marks and EU registered design rights will only be valid in EU member states and will not be protected in the UK. Similarly, any UK trade marks or design rights registered from 1 January 2021 onwards will not be valid in EU member states. If you would like to register a trade mark or design right in the UK and EU then separate applications will have to be made.
  3. On 1 January 2021, comparable UK trade marks and design rights were created for every registered EU trade mark essentially cloning the EU trade mark and creating a UK trade mark.
  4. UK lawyers and patent / trade mark attorneys have lost their rights of audience before EU courts and bodies such as the EU Intellectual Property Office. This means that you may need to appoint alternative representation based in the EU.  

Capsticks can help you register, commence opposition or enforce a trade mark or design right. In addition, we can provide fast and cost-effective advice in relation to all other contentious intellectual property issues. Please contact Jane Barker on or 020 8780 4783 or Hugh Wooster on or 020 8780 4692.