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On September 7, 2017, the European Commission published a position paper on intellectual property rights (including geographical indications) for transmission to the EU 27 (the Member States of the European Union minus the United Kingdom) which sets out the main principles of the EU position, to be presented to the United Kingdom (UK) in the context of negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

This position paper was expected since the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (which is currently expected to occur in March 2019) will create uncertainty for UK and EU27 stakeholders alike not only in relation to the scope of protection in the UK of certain intellectual property rights but also for the treatment of applications for certain rights and to the exhaustion of rights conferred by intellectual property rights.

For guidance on implementing this rule on campus, refer to the RF Procedure for the Distribution of Royalty Income.Any questions regarding the applicability of this policy shall be directed to the RF Office of Innovation and Partnerships.Such protection should be comparable to that provided by Union law.Indeed, there is currently no domestic legislation in the UK on the protection of designations of origin and geographical indications as well as on other protected terms in relation to agricultural products.The UK has made progress towards ratifying the UPC Agreement but there will be tough negotiations to remain in the UPC and Unitary Patent system post-Brexit.

Moreover, EU membership and the fact that the UK, by virtue of its membership to the EU, is also a Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA), currently allow UK solicitors, barristers and trade mark agents to represent their clients before the EU courts and/or before the EUIPO.On the contrary, the « holder » of an European protected geographical indication and/or designation of origin has no choice but to wait for the establishement of a new and specific UK domestic legislation.The questions arises whether the holders of famous European protected geographical indications or designations of origin like « Champagne » or « Cognac » will be protected and, if so, to what extent, if they are victim of an act of infringement committed within the UK territory just after the withdrawal date and if, on that date, the UK has not put in place the necessary domestic legislation providing for their continued protection.Any related administrative burden for such holders should be kept to a strict minimum.If this is agreed between the EU 27 and the UK, this should facilitate the transition of European Union trade marks and registered Community designs into the UK as national rights.The question arises whether an European Union trade mark which has been used sufficiently throughout the EU 27 to maintain its validity, but has not been used for a period of five or more years in the UK, will be able to remain validly registered in the UK after UK’s withdrawal from the EU.