The guidance explains that during the transition period EU law will continue to operate as it does now in the UK. Therefore, the intellectual property system will continue as it is until 31 December 2020.
There will be no disruption to IPO services or changes to the UK IP system during this transition period. The IPO will convert almost 1.4 million EU trade marks and 700,000 EU designs to comparable UK rights at the end of the transition period. These will come into effect on 1 January 2021.
The arrangements in the IP section of the Withdrawal Agreement take effect at the end of the transition period. These arrangements provide legal certainty and protect the interests of rights holders and users of the IP framework.
The Withdrawal Agreement ensures continued protection of existing EU-level IP rights in the UK after the end of the transition period. This will ensure that existing UK IP rights can be managed appropriately in line with existing domestic arrangements.
The document sets out high level guidance on EU trade marks, registered community designs, unregistered designs, international registrations designating the EU, rights of representation, patents, supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), exhaustion of rights and copyright.
The guidance also contains more detailed information on what will happen at the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021. It covers: (i) EU trade mark protection and comparable UK trade marks; (ii) changes to EU and international designs and trade mark protection; (iii) changes to unregistered designs; (iv) changes to international trade mark registration; (v) changes to SPC and patent law; (vi) exhaustion of IP rights and parallel trade; and (vii) copyright law.
The document also explains that what happens to the current rules on cross-border portability of online content services and the reciprocal protection for databases will depend on the future relationship between the UK and EU. However, the Withdrawal Agreement ensures that any database rights that exist in the EU and UK at the end of the transition period will continue to be recognised in both territories for the remainder of their term.