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We are all aware by now of the fact that the initial deadline fixed for Brexit at March, 29th 2019 lapsed without the UK effectively leaving the European Union at that date.
There has been quite a lot of confusion in the air and intense last-minute-negotiations going on between the UK government and the competent EU authorities, the outcome of which we try to simplify and sum up below.
In March and April, the UK government submitted several requests for further extensions of the period provided in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union beyond the initial Brexit date to the European Council, as this deadline was approaching.
It was finally decided in agreement with the European Council to extend this period until October, 31st 2019. One of the conditions for this extension of the initial deadline was that the UK had to organize elections to the European Parliament in accordance with applicable Union Law (between May, 23rd to 26th 2019), as British MPs had not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement on time for the UK to leave the EU just before these elections. If British MPs had approved the Withdrawal Agreement by May 22nd 2019 (the day before the elections to the European Parliament), the UK could have left the EU with a deal on June, 1st 2019.
New Brexit timeline:
- June, 20th and 21st 2019 – EU summit: “informal” review of Brexit progress during this meeting
- October, 31st 2019 – “Final” (at the moment) Brexit date * (As the UK has taken part in EU elections, this will become the new Brexit date).
*If both the UK and the EU bloc ratify the treaty at any point before the scheduled exit date of October, 31st 2019 “the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the following month”.
Even taking into account this delay of the initial Brexit date, it is still uncertain when exactly, and even if the UK will finally exit the European Union, even more so now that the prime minister has announced her resignation (she already stood down as leader of the Conservative Party).
What’s the impact on IP? We remind you that if we have to face a “Hard Brexit” scenario, that is to say in case of a no-deal scenario, consequences for right holders would vary for registered and merely applied-for rights at the date of Brexit. In the case of registered European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs) and Registered Community Designs (RCDs), the “conversion” into equivalent UK rights will be practically automatically and a continuing protection of rights will thus be ensured. In the case of pending EUTM and RCD applications however, there will be no automatic right or application that will come into effect in the UK. The right holders would dispose of a nine-month period as from the date of Brexit to file a UK equivalent right under the same terms using the normal application process in the UK so as to maintain their already acquired rights.
To be continued…