IP and BREXIT: The facts

Intellectual Property Office

August 1
13:39 2016

There has been much speculation on the future of many intellectual property laws following the recent Referendum outcome.

This guide looks to offer factual information on the future of many international IP agreements that UK rights holders and business can make use of.

Trade marks

UK rights holders can continue to protect their IP abroad. While the UK remains a full member of the EU then EU Trade Marks (EUTM) and Registered Community Designs (RCD) continue to be valid in the UK.

In addition, the Madrid System (WIPO) provides trade mark protection in up to 113 territories including the European Union (EU).

We recognise that for EU trade marks and designs, users will want clarity over the long-term coverage of those rights. The government is exploring various options and we will be consulting our customers in due course.


UK rights holders can continue protect their IP abroad. While the UK remains a full member of the EU, the EU Trade Marks (EUTM) and Registered Community Designs (RCD) continue to be valid in the UK.

The government has also made clear its intention to ratify the Hague Agreement in a national capacity. This will provide design rights protection across multiple jurisdictions. We are currently working through the steps of joining and hope to introduce the service within the next year.


The referendum result has no impact on UK businesses ability to apply to the European Patent Office (EPO) for patent protection.

It will remain possible to obtain patents from the EPO which apply in the UK. Existing European patents covering the UK are also unaffected. British exit from the EU will not affect the current European patent system as governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC).

The UK remains a Contracting Member State of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) at present. We will continue to attend and participate in UPC meetings in that capacity. There will be no immediate changes.

The UK is a member of a number of international treaties and agreements. This means that UK copyright works (such as music, films, books and photographs) are protected around the world. This will continue to be the case following our exit from the EU.

The UK has no current plans to review the domestic copyright framework, except where we are required to do so by legislation.


The UK is widely seen as a world leader in enforcement of IP. By working in partnership with law enforcement and industry, the government can deliver an IP environment where legitimate businesses thrive and consumers are protected.

For the time being the UKs enforcement framework remains unchanged. We are still part of the EU and we will still play a part at the EUIPOs Observatory, and in bodies like Europol. The process for intercepting counterfeits and other infringing goods at the border remains unchanged.

The UK remains a part of the EU until the negotiations to exit are concluded. We will continue to play an active role in the review of the Enforcement Directive, and the Commissions work on tackling commercial-scale infringement.

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