How Brexit may impact intellectual property owners

Intellectual property, or IP as it is sometimes known, exists to protect the ideas and inventions of business owners. It allows the owners of those ideas to protect them so they can develop them and make money out of them. With Brexit on the horizon IP owners should consider these key things.


Patents are normally awarded to new inventions and ideas and provide 20 years of protection. Within those 20 years it is illegal for anyone apart from the owners to make, use or sell the invention.

As it stands, patent protection and European Patent Protection will not change after we leave the EU. Watch this video to find out more.

It’s important to note that new EU law on Supplementary Protection Certificates (which extend patent protection) came into force in July 2019. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, these changes will automatically become UK law on exit day. Find our more here.

Copyright ©

Copyright automatically protects creative works such as films, computer programmes and music and allows the creator to profit when their work is used by another party.

Although the UK is leaving the EU, UK and EU copyright works (e.g. books, films and music) will continue to be protected in the EU and UK respectively because of the international treaties on copyright which require all treaty countries to protect works originating in any other treaty country to a minimum standard. Our participation in these treaties does not depend on our membership of the EU.

The Government has also introduced the Intellectual Property (Copyright and Related Rights) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 to ensure UK copyright law still functions if we leave the EU without a deal.

TM trade marks ™

The existing UK system for protecting trade mark rights will remain largely unaffected by Brexit. All European trade marks will automatically be converted into UK trade marks free of charge. This video explains the change in more detail including information on pending applications.

Exhaustion of IP rights

There will be some changes to Exhaustion of IP rights (when your goods can be legally moved within the EEA without your permission) if we leave the EU without a deal. This video explains how that will work and what you do need to do to prepare.

As you can see, most IP protections will be maintained in the short-term. However, many of these arrangements will not be entirely complete, and businesses should anticipate changes in the long-term. IP cooperation with the EU will need to be negotiated, for example, and the UK will need to establish new schemes to protect certain types of IP rights. Sign-up for email alerts to make sure you receive the latest information.

Further information

If you have any questions about the above or would like further information please contact the Intellectual Property Office:


Telephone: 0300 300 2000

Telephone lines open: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, excluding bank holidays.