In a debate in the House of Commons on 19 July, Robin Walker MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has expressly stated that conversion of all existing EU trade marks, Community registered designs and unregistered designs will be “automatic and free”.
Lisa Cameron MP, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health), asked Mr Walker what steps his Department was taking during its negotiations on the UK leaving the EU to ensure that intellectual property rights in the creative sector were maintained. Robin Walker replied that UK-owned trade marks and design rights in the EU27 will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal.
Robin Walker went on to say, "Meanwhile, we have agreed to protect all existing EU trade marks, Community registered designs and unregistered designs in the UK as we leave the EU. In place of those EU-level rights, 1.5 million new UK trade marks and registered designs will be granted automatically and for free."
Robin Walker added, "The creative industries can therefore be confident that their existing intellectual property rights will not be diminished, and that the UK will remain one of the best places in the world to protect and enforce IP rights."
Although Lisa Cameron stated she was extremely reassured by his answer, she went on to ask, "However, concerns have been raised with me this week regarding EU-wide trade mark and design registrations, because they do not feature specifically in the White Paper and could therefore be at risk, once the definition of the EU no longer includes the UK. Can the Minister reassure the industry in that respect?"
Robin Walker replied, "Yes, I would like to reassure the industry that we have set out in the White Paper that we want to work with the EU to reflect common arrangements in this space. We recognise that the UK is a world leader in fashion, and it should continue to be. We will ensure that trade marks and unregistered design rights are protected in the UK."
Obviously further information and detail is awaited, but these comments by the Minister seem to be good news for owners of such IP rights.