The UK Government Cabinet yesterday approved a draft agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). The draft agreement sets out a proposed manner of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The draft agreement includes provisions relating to a 21 month transitional period following the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. A political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU has also been published, but is not in its final version. The declaration sets out an overall understanding on the framework for the future close relationship between the UK and the EU.
The draft agreement must now be approved for signature at an EU Council meeting of the remaining 27 EU Heads of State or Government, to be held on 25 November, before being sent to the European Parliament for its consent. The United Kingdom Parliament must also ratify the agreement, with a vote expected in the first half of December.
As previously reported, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU will have no effect on patents or patent applications because the European Patent Office is not an EU body and the UK will remain a member of the European Patent Convention. The draft agreement does contain provisions relating to EU trade marks, EU registered and unregistered design rights, Community Plant Variety Rights, Geographical Indications, Supplementary Protection Certificates and Exhaustion of Rights. Many of these provisions were agreed in early 2018 in a provisional draft agreement as reported here. Some uncertainties have been resolved, particularly relating to Geographical Indications, but the draft agreement does not vary substantially from the provisional draft agreement. Put simply existing EU IP rights will continue to be valid in the remaining 27 States of the EU and a new equivalent right will be created to cover the UK so that seamless protection will be achieved.
We will continue to monitor progress of the draft agreement and provide detailed comments when the text of the agreement is finalised.