Tuesday 29 January 2019

Darren Olivier

Update: Brexit implications for Africa

Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
The UKIPO has been helpful in providing regular updates on what would happen to intellectual property rights of those with interests in the UK post Brexit, in the event of a no-deal. The latest update published recently sets out the various rights and explains what would happen to each:

  1. - Continued protection of registered trade marks and designs in the UK
  2. - Continued protection of unregistered Community designs
  3. - Correspondence addresses and confidentiality for UK trade marks and designs

The implications are, generally, that existing EU rights would remain in force and that provisions for a separate right covering the UK would be created, with minimal administrative burden. Despite these assurances though, many EU rights holders have already seen fit to re-file or at least reconsider their portfolio as it applies to the UK. The uptick in national UK national filings shows the trend and African rights holders would do well to consider the same approach.

The debate and uncertainty over Brexit is tedious yet remains captivating and crucially important for anyone with trade, business or personal interests in Great Britain. Most countries and many citizens of Africa fall into that category, and even on the continent's most southern tip it is also a potentially very emotive topic.  Only the bold or mischievous raise the topic at dinner tables. It is treated with the same trepidation as religion, abortion and politics for the topic has the same capacity to interrogate fundamentals.

When Great Britain catches a cold, Africa gets pneumonia, as the saying goes. GB is one of Africa's most important trading partners. Any slight, let alone momentous (even if temporary), change to the economic climate in GB affects Africa.

This truth underlines the concerns raised by South Africa's trade minister Rob Davies in a recent BusinessReport news article in which he warns of the potential devastating impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the South African economy. Highlighting the wine industry which produces 40% of its export for the UK market, he explains that the European Partnership Agreement reached with Europe in 2016 saw South Africa's duty free quota to Europe increase from 48 to 110 million litres. The implication, it appears, is that this progress in trade for South Africa would be jeopardised. This is despite, British High Commissioner Nigel Casey's assurances in late November last year.

In the same article Dawie Roodt and Mike Schussler, both leading economists, warn that if Brexit is disruptive, even a small contraction in the British economy would be hard felt in South Africa, citing exchange rate fluctuations and trade implications. However, Schussler admits admits that the effect if difficult to predict, and impossible to influence.

For earlier posts and commentary on Brexit implications for IP owners in Africa, click Afro-IP posts here and here.

Posted by Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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