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Brussels and London have reached a 585-page agreement after a year and a half of negotiations, backed by an intense British cabinet meeting, although the agreement still needs final approval. In articles 54 to 61, the draft agreement defines the agreed rules for intellectual and industrial property rights, which have been a major cause for concern among the holders of community property rights, in regard to whether their rights will be valid in English territory after the UK’s exit.

At first glance, the agreement would seem to be good news for right holders, as it calls for keeping the previous model in place without major disruptions.

Under article 54, holders of European trademarks, community designs and plant variety rights that were registered or granted before the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020) will have their rights converted into equivalent registered intellectual property rights applicable under UK law, with no need for new approval. This registration will be automatic and free.

Article 59 guarantees that any applications for trademark and design rights being processed by European bodies before the end of the transition period will also have nine months of priority to apply for equivalent rights from English authorities.

The agreement also calls for the same rights of continuity for geographic denominations, designations of origin, guaranteed traditional specialties and wine denominations that are protected on the last day before the transition period ends. The UK will be required to guarantee right holders at least the same level of protection that they had under European law. This obligation will also apply to unregistered community models and sketches and protected databases, which will continue to benefit from the same level of protection.

The equivalence between the two systems will also be reflected in how rights will be terminated. Any legal or administrative proceedings to revoke or terminate the registration of trademarks, designs or plant variety rights that are still open on the last day of the transition period will have their effects extended to the UK, excluding exceptional cases. Similarly, any rights that expired in either territory before the end of the transition period will remain expired in the United Kingdom.

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