On the IP front the big story is a quick Brexit and what that will mean for IP disputes and EU trade marks. Whilst the UK has confirmed it will protect IP owners by way of replicating EU-wide rights in the UK, it will have caught some practitioners out as it will take away the rights of many UK practitioners to maintain these EU-wide rights, which can be up to 50 % of some IP practices.
It will lead to a massive hike in UK-based IP disputes as there will be a rush to bring mirroring proceedings in the UK. The UK Intellectual Property Office has already taken on extra staff to handle these disputes, but they are already facing lengthening waiting lists for hearings and decisions, and the UK Courts will be all the busier. Brands will be keen post-Brexit to test the limits of IP law on certain principles that the UK Courts have secretly found the EU courts to be too lenient on. It will be a time of significant uncertainty in IP, which has been broadly harmonised with other EU countries for many years.
Of course the broader commercial issue will be the end of EU exhaustion, which will hit high street consumers (and businesses) in the pocket if there is no-deal. For consumers, many of the high streets’ giants source products from around the EU to give UK consumers the best price and to keep brand owners’ pricing in check. Now that will end (it is unlikely that there will be free movement of goods even if a deal is found with the EU) we are likely to see a general rise in the price of branded products from outside the UK even if there are no tariffs, since the UK is seen as a more prosperous country than its European counterparts. This may create an opportunity for new UK-based start ups to attack with home-grown and innovative products, but that is likely to take some time. In the meantime expect to pay more for the most popular things in the shopping basket.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues outlined in this Keynote, please contact Aaron Wood on 020 3319 3700 or [email protected]