Business as usual while Brexit uncertainty looms

Rights and trademarks secure regardless of outcome, assures Intellectual Property Office 

While the issue of Brexit has yet to be settled, the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom is committed to ensuring IP interests for all rights holders, according to a senior UK official. 

On Oct 29, the European Union granted the UK a new Brexit extension till Jan 31, 2020, which raised uncertainty and brought changes. 

Before that, the UK government provided the public with detailed guidance about the changes that may happen in a no-deal Brexit scenario. 

"In the IP field, no existing rights or EU rights would be lost if the UK leaves the EU with no deal," said Tim Moss, CEO of IPO. 

"These include all IP rights protected in the UK based on EU laws, including EU trademarks, registered and unregistered community designs and supplementary protection certificates linking to patents." 

In order to ensure IP rights remain largely unaffected by Brexit, the UK will create new laws to mirror the European rights, which would add no cost to rights holders, according to Moss. 

For instance, IPO will create a comparable UK trademark for every registered EU trademark on the exit day. The converted UK version will be recognized in the country after Brexit. Existing EU trademarks will be protected in the remaining 27 EU member states. 

UK enterprises can still file applications with the EU Intellectual Property Office for an EU trademark. 

"So if some UK-based Chinese businesses have EU trademarks, they do not need to worry because they will not lose any rights," Moss said. 

"The UK has one of the best IP systems and regimes in the world and leaving the European Union will not change that," he said. "We will continue to deliver quality rights-granting services, lead the world in enforcement and actively engage in international IP discussions." 

Moss emphasized that Brexit does not indicate the UK will be stepping back from the international stage. Instead, moving forward in international cooperation and trade will be more important than ever. 

As for China-UK cooperation in IP, Moss said that IPO has a strong and productive relationship with its counterparts in China, which began more than 20 years ago. 

"The cooperation is incredibly valuable and welcome. It allows us to share expertise, address issues faced by businesses of both countries and work together on improvements to the global IP system." 

Moss also mentioned recent changes in China's Trademark Law regarding malicious trademark registration and infringement. "The malicious trademark registration has long been the key concern reported to IPO's team in China. It is a real problem for UK businesses, so we welcome any efforts to tackle the issue. 

"We're looking forward to seeing what impact these changes have in practice, and whether there is a resulting step change in reducing this concern for UK businesses in China," he said. 

Among the latest collaborations is the fifth UK-China Intellectual Property Symposium held in Beijing earlier this month. 

At the symposium, representatives exchanged views about IP and new technological innovation. New technologies such as artificial intelligence have the potential to change the IP system, Moss said. 

"AI is now being used for numerous innovative and creative endeavors, which are long believed to be the sole preserve of human artists and engineers." 

Its existence brings benefits to people but results in disputes about IP infringement in the future, he said. "The IP system needs to review constantly what is happening and make sure it is adapted to new technologies." 

In September, the World Intellectual Property Organization held conversations on AI and IP. 

"People are starting to understand the practical implications and potential of technological developments," Moss said. He added that all parties need to work together to ensure the IP system supports businesses and embraces technological reform and inspire creativity. 

As the world becomes more digital, the challenges and opportunities will become multifaceted, which will lead various countries to collaborate, he said.

Moss cited an old Chinese proverb, "Only when all contribute their firewood can they build a strong fire." 

(Source: China Daily)