Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Darren Olivier

UK Guides on a no-deal Brexit - Africa Impact

The UK Government has published its guide to UK IP rights in "no deal" Brexit scenario i.e the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 without concluding an agreement on its withdrawal. The handy guides are published as follows:

Trade Marks & Designs - here
Copyright - here
Patents - here
Geographical Indications - here
Exhaustion of Rights - here

As a general comment, the UK guides are re-assuring as they explain that very little will change in the near future following a no-deal Brexit. For designs (including unregistered community designs) and trade marks registered as EU rights, the guides explain that equivalent rights will be made available in the UK. Copyrights, which are largely unaffected by EU membership, are not expected to change except for the adoption of certain EU directives. Database protection in the UK will however, not have reciprocal protection in the EU. 

The UK has maintained its interest in the unitary patent system but it remains to be whether they will be allowed membership post Brexit. Fundamentally the patent laws in the UK will remain unchanged. For GIs the UK will set up a separate register and this is likely to be of particular interest to African producers relying on GIs e.g the coffee bean industry. On exhaustion, in the short term, the UK will recognise the EU exhaustion principles but this is not likely to be reciprocal, meaning that there may be restrictions on exporting goods from the UK to Europe (perhaps important for say SA wine producers using the UK as an entry point for Europe for new wine labels).

The UK and remaining countries in the EU are important trading partners for Africa. Despite that  Africa as a whole contributes very little to European intellectual property in the sense that Africa has the lowest percentage of formal IP filings into Europe of all the global regions. By contrast, European filings into Africa are second only to the US. Nonetheless, what happens to IP rights in Europe post Brexit is important to understand. Apart from the commodities sector and semi-manufactured goods, the wine, fashion, food, tech and sports industries are most likely to be affected.

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)