Invest Ireland | Brexit

The Impact of Brexit on Intellectual Property

Video - Gerard Kelly | Partner 

Registered European trademarks and designs

While domestically registered trademarks and designs in the UK will be unaffected, Brexit will affect the protection afforded in the UK for those who have registered European Union Trade Marks (“EUTMs”) or designs. It is almost certain that EUTMs and designs will eventually cease to have effect in the UK but it is hoped that transitional arrangements will be negotiated as part of the UK’s exit from the EU. These transitional arrangements could include the ability to convert EUTMs and designs into corresponding UK trademarks and designs. In any event, trade mark and design owners will need to follow the negotiations closely as some administrative action will likely be required.

For those companies who rely on use in the UK for their EUTMs further action may be required as such EUTMs may become vulnerable to cancellation following a UK exit from the EU.

Unregistered trademarks and designs

The law of passing off in the UK, similar to our own in Ireland, will be unaffected. However, for companies who rely on the protection afforded by the Community Unregistered Design, this will likely cease to apply in the UK and reliance may have to be placed on the domestic unregistered design right in the UK.

Copyright and database rights

It is unlikely that copyright and database rights will be appreciably affected in the short to medium term. However, as copyright and database rights have been largely harmonised at EU level, in the longer term, EU and UK protection of copyright and database rights will likely diverge.


National UK patents will remain unaffected and for those applying for patents in the UK nothing much will change either. This is because the UK is a party to the Patent Co-operation Treaty and the European Patent Convention, neither of which rely on EU membership for effect. On the other hand, the coming into effect of the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) could be significantly delayed as the UK is a compulsory member for the UPC to take effect.

If you have any questions on the impact of Brexit on the Data Protection, Privacy and Intellectual Property, please contact one of our team below, or our Managing Partner, Declan Black.

Richard Woulfe
Partner, Head of
Intellectual Property
t: +353 1 614 5070
Gerard Kelly
Partner, Intellectual
t: +35 1 614 5093