An Industrial Property Rights Strategy for Europe (pdf, 245 kB)
Current information – EC Directorate-General for Internal Market
Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business (pdf, 461 kB)
A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights – promotion of creation and innovation
(pdf, 124 kB)
Study on the Overall Functioning of the European Trade Mark System (pdf, 2,1 MB)
The European Union Trade Mark Reform Package
On 23 December 2015, Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament (EP) and of the Council of 16 December 2015 to approximate the laws of the member states relating to trade marks, was published in the Official Journal – full text (pdf, 1,6 MB)
The Directive entered into force on 13 January 2016. The EU Member States have three years to transpose the Directive into their national laws.
On 24 December 2015, the final text of the new EU Trade Mark Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the EU - “Regulation (EU) 2015/2424 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 on the Community trade mark and Commission Regulation (EC) No 2868/95 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 on the Community trade mark, and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 2869/95 on the fees payable to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs)” – full text (pdf, 895 kB)
The EU Trade Mark Regulation entered into force on 23 March 2016.
Study on geographical indications protection for non-agricultural products in the internal market
The European Commission commissioned a study (pdf, 6,2 MB)on geographical indications (GIs), with the objective to gather information on protected and potentially protected non-agricultural GI products in the European Union and to determine whether or not a unitary system of protection for non-agricultural GI products at the EU level should be established.
Unitary Patent Protection
Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court
Information on the European patent with unitary effect and the Unified patent court
25 European Union Member States including the Czech Republic signed an Agreement on a Unified Patent Court in the margins of the Competitiveness Council on 19 February 2013. More information is available on: www.mpo.cz and on www.consilium.europa.eu.
The European Union is closer to the introduction of the patent with unitary effect (the unitary patent) and the creation of a unified patent judicial system. The European Parliament and the Council supported on December 2012 the so called "patent package" and adopted two regulations, which are part of it.
The patent package consists of three parts:
a) Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection1 (pdf, 758 kB). Regulation uses the already existing system of granting European patents under the European Patent Convention of 1973. The European Patent Office having its headquarters in Munich grants European patents for the individual Member States of the European Patent Organization according to the choice of the applicant. Granted European patent has the same effect as a national patent in the designated State. The condition is that the patent proprietor has to validate a patent after its granting, i.e. he provides translation of a patent file into an official language of this State to the industrial property offices of designated States and he pays the prescribed fee. The exception is the Member States that acceded to the so-called London agreement and do not require full translations. The proprietor pays the annual renewal fees in each State separately for the maintenance of a European patent. New regulation will provide to the proprietors of patents the opportunity within one month after the grant of a European patent to file with the European Patent Office the request for a unitary effect in all EU Member States except Spain and Croatia, which has not been involved in this mode. The main feature of the unitary patent is its unitary character. It provides unitary protection and has the same effect in each of the participating Member States. As a result, the unitary patent may only be limited, transferred or revoked in respect of all the participating Member States. The maintenance of patents in force will simplify, because the proprietors of patents with a unitary effect will pay a single annual renewal fee to the European Patent Office.
b) Council Regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements2 (pdf, 978 kB). According to the regulation, a patent will be granted in one of the official languages of the EPO (English, French, German) and in addition patent claims will be published in the remaining two languages. The machine translations of granted patents in all official EU languages will be also available. In the event of a dispute, the patent proprietor at its own expense shall provide a translation of the patent in the official language of the EU State in which the infringer has a domicile or place of business or in the language of the EU State in which the infringement took the place, and in the official language of the State where the seat of the competent court is.
c) The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (pdf, 1,9 MB) creates a special judicial system for dealing with disputes of infringement of European patents and patents with a unitary effect. The system will consist of courts of first instance (central, regional and local divisions) and one common Court of Appeal. The central division will have its seat in Paris with sections in London and Munich. Member States have the possibility to create their local division or several States can agree on a common regional division. The Court will hear infringement disputes and proposals on revocation of European patents and patents with a unitary effect and to supplementary protection certificates issued for products protected by such patents. The Court of Appeal will have its seat in Luxembourg. A new judicial system will facilitate a litigation of European patents. Until now, in the case of infringement the proprietor of a European patent had to litigate in each State where the patent infringement has occurred. The new system will provide him the opportunity to pursue his rights in a unified court at once.
The UPC agreement was signed by the 25 EU Member States, including the Czech Republic in the margins of the Competitiveness Council on 19 February 2013.
The UPC agreement and both above mentioned regulations, i.e. the entire patent package will take effect on the territory of the States concerned depending on the development of the UPC agreement ratification process. The unitary patent will cover the territories of those States that have ratified the UPC Agreement.
The ratification of the UPC agreement in at least 13 States, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom is a condition of the entry into force of the patent package. The unitary effect will be further expanded on other territories as the ratification process of particular states will end. The unitary effect for the state concerned will take effect on the first day of the fourth month after the deposit of its instrument of ratification or accession.
The declared objective, namely the possibility of obtaining a patent for an invention in the relevant European countries more easily and more cheaply, which applies not only to domestic enterprises, but also for the applicant from other countries, including for example the United States, Russia or China should be achieved by the introduction of the patent with unitary effect.
The level of the renewal fees for a European patent with unitary effect was approved at a meeting of the Select Committee of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation in July 2015.
The scale of renewal fees for a European patent with unitary effect:
|for the 2nd year||35|
|for the 3rd year||105|
|for the 4th year||145|
|for the 5th year||315|
|for the 6th year||475|
|for the 7th year||630|
|for the 8th year||815|
|for the 9th year||990|
|for the 10th year||1175|
|for the 11th year||1460|
|for the 12th year||1775|
|for the 13th year||2015|
|for the 14th year||2455|
|for the 15th year||2830|
|for the 16th year||3240|
|for the 17th year||3640|
|for the 18th year||4055|
|for the 19th year||4455|
|for the 20th year||4855|
Additional fee for belated payment of a renewal fee is 50%of the belated renewal fee.
1OJ L 361, 31. 12. 2012, p. 1.
2OJ 361, 31. 12. 2012, p. 89.
Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court
Unified Patent Court – homepage
Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (has not yet come into effect) (pdf, 450 kB)
Agreement on a Unified Patent Court – Ratification details
Unified Patent Court – Draft of the UPC Rules of procedure
Frequently Asked Questions
Agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK reached
On Christmas Eve, negotiating teams announced the conclusion of a long-awaited agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. 31 December 2020 marked the end of the transition period, and from 1 January 2021 until 30 April 2021, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part was provisionally applied. The agreement was subsequently approved by the European Parliament on 28 April 2021, and on 1 May 2021 this period ended. The agreement, which has thus entered into full force, contains, inter alia, a part regarding intellectual property.
An extract from part two of the agreement Trade, transport, fisheries and other arrangements, which directly concerns industrial property rights, can be found here (pdf, 140 kB), the entire text of the agreement is available here (pdf, 9,0 MB).
On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union on the basis of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (the entire text of the agreement is available here (pdf, 4,9 MB))
On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom (UK) notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). In this regard it was necessary, among other things, to address issues of the continued protection of certain EU-protected industrial property rights in the United Kingdom, the exhaustion of rights ensuing from such industrial property rights, and the treatment of applications for such rights after the completion of the Brexit process.
The abovementioned issues were governed by the Withdrawal Agreement for the “transition period” from 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2020. During this period, the status quo was retained in the area of industrial property. EU law, with some exceptions, remained effective towards and within the UK.
2. Protection in the EU
At the turn of June and July 2020, the European Commission published technical notices on readiness for the fields of trade marks and (industrial) designs, supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products and plant protection products, exhaustion of rights and geographical indications (see below).
9 July 2020 then saw the publication of the general Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on readiness at the end of the transition period between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Among other things, Section G.1. of the Communication deals with intellectual property rights and states the following:
“During the transition period, the United Kingdom takes part in the EU Single Market. Therefore, currently, a holder of an intellectual property right, such as an EU trademark, cannot invoke such a trademark to oppose the shipment of goods from the United Kingdom to the European Union, so long as the goods have been put on the UK market under that trademark by the right-holder or with its consent (‘principle of exhaustion’ of the rights conferred by the intellectual property right), and vice versa.
As of 1 January 2021, traders in the European Union can no longer invoke exhaustion vis-à-vis right-holders when sourcing products from the United Kingdom.
Advice to businesses and Member State administrations:
Businesses engaged in parallel trade from the United Kingdom should re-visit their business arrangements.
In addition, as of 1 January 2021, while existing EU unitary intellectual property rights (EU trademarks, Community (industrial) designs, Community plant variety rights and geographical indications) remain protected under Articles 54 and 57 of the Withdrawal Agreement, any new EU unitary rights will have a reduced territorial scope as they will no longer have effect in the United Kingdom.
Advice to businesses and Member State administrations:
Stakeholders concerned should take the necessary measures to ensure protection in the United Kingdom of future intellectual property rights, where relevant."
More detailed information is contained in subsequent individual notices.
Trade marks and industrial designs
Notice of the European Commission to stakeholders on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU Rules in the field of European Union trade marks and Community (industrial) designs (pdf, 244 kB)
The EUIPO website provides a continuously updated summary of information concerning the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on EU trade marks and registered Community designs.
Patents and supplementary protection certificates
Notice of the European Commission to stakeholders on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU Rules in the field of supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products and plant production products (pdf, 190 kB)
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU will not affect the current European patent system, which is governed by the European Patent Convention (not part of EU law) and is therefore not mentioned in the agreement.
Since the system of the so-called unitary patent (European patent with unitary effect) and the Unified Patent Court are not yet functional, the agreement does not regulate their future form.
Geographical indications and appellations of origin
Notice of the European Commission to stakeholders on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU Rules in the field of geographical indications (pdf, 314 kB)
Information on protection of geographical indications in the UK after the end of the transition period.
Intellectual property right exhaustion
Notice of the European Commission to stakeholders on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU Rules in the field of intellectual property right exhaustion (pdf, 152 kB)
Information on the post-Brexit situation is available on the website of the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
3. International protection
At the end of July 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) published on its website information on the implications of the end of the transitional period for users of the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks and the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs.
The Madrid System
The Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) provides for a transition period ending on 31 December 2020. The Government of the UK has informed WIPO of the steps that it will take to deliver continued protection in the UK to marks in international registrations with effect in the EU before the end of the transition period, and to ensure the rights of registrants of pending international applications and holders of international registrations designating the EU at the end of the transitional period.
Further information on these steps can be found in Information Notice No. 54/2020 (pdf, 244 kB).
Questions and answers concerning Brexit on the WIPO website.
Details on steps taken in the United Kingdom are provided on the UKIPO website in the section “Guidance – changes to international trade mark registrations after 1 January 2021”.
Information on the preservation of rights in the United Kingdom during the transition period can be found in WIPO Information Notice No. 2/2020 (pdf, 42 kB).
Further information is available in the form UKIPO TM28 (pdf, 249 kB) (Application to record a concurrent registration if a protected International Trade Mark (UK) replaces a registered UK Trade Mark).
The Hague System
The Government of the United Kingdom has informed the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of changes effective as of 1 January 2021 to deliver continued protection in the United Kingdom to industrial designs in international registrations that have been protected in the European Union before the end of the transition period and to preserve the rights of applicants and holders of pending international applications or international registrations, designating the European Union, at the end of the transition period.
Further information on these changes can be found in WIPO Information Notice No. 31/2020 (pdf, 155 kB).
Questions and answers concerning Brexit on the WIPO website.
Details on steps taken in the United Kingdom are provided in the section “Guidance – international EU protected (industrial) designs ”.
Information on the preservation of rights in the United Kingdom during the transition period can be found in WIPO Information Notice No. 2/2020 (pdf, 144 kB).
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights
Action plan on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (pdf, 104 kB)
Council resolution on a comprehensive European anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy plan (pdf, 55 kB)
The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights
Commission´s Report on the implementation of the EU customs Action Plan to combat IPR infringements for the years 2013/2017
The European Commission has issued the final report on the implementation the second Action Plan to Combat Intellectual Property Rights Infringements (COM(2018) 77 final). This second EU Action Plan contained four strategic objectives: • effectively implementing and monitoring the new EU legislation on customs enforcement of IPR. • tackling major trends in trade of IPR infringing goods. • tackling trade of IPR infringing goods throughout the international supply chain. • strengthening cooperation with the European Observatory and with law enforcement authorities. The Action Plan invited the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to conduct annual reviews of its implementation and to submit to the Council a final report in 2017. It follows the general structure of the Action Plan and includes a set of recommendations on how to go forward.