Typically, an IP license expires with the expiration of IP rights. However, depending on the IP rights in question, there may be certain regulatory & legislative exceptions to that rule. In fact, registration of IP in Great Britain is closely related to further issuance of licenses for it.
Individuals & companies should be extra careful not to end up in a situation when they violate UK antitrust laws due to expiration of the validity term of their patents. Intimate awareness of antitrust legislation is also crucial for individuals or companies who are only considering registering a patent in England.
Expiration of licenses requiring payment of perpetual royalties or fees is also likely to violate antitrust laws. However, making payments exceeding a patent’s validity term may be acceptable, as long as it relates to equitable remuneration (e.g. research patents that may ultimately fail to bear dividends over the validity term of a patent, although their use could ultimately result in the accomplishment of commercial goals) or the know-how associated with a patent.
Various unregistered rights, such as copyright & industrial design rights, will expire over time, as will agreements containing provisions regarding such rights.
Great Britain: Registering IP by Foreigners
Great Britain has no legislation regulating registration of IP rights held by foreigners. Hence, foreigners seeking to register IP rights in Great Britain should do so on the basis of standard registration procedures.
Can Foreigners File an Infringement Claim?
There’s no laws preventing foreign copyright holders or licensees from initiating IP infringement litigation in Great Britain. Nothing can stop licensees from initiating legal proceedings without the consent of owners or licensors, provided that they have a right to file an application with a court.
Licensees can only bring an action against a patent of which they’re exclusive owners. Exclusive owners of licensees may be awarded damages or other exemptions from liability; however, they may be prohibited from exercising the above rights as per agreements reached with licensors.
To sum up, foreign patent holders whose patent registration in Great Britain has expired or been invalidated should be extra careful not to violate EU antitrust legislation. According to it, any actions with IP objects after the expiration of their registration period is deemed a violation. Licensing of unregistered IP in England is allowed.
Seeking to register IP in Great Britain? Need advice on IP regulation in Great Britain? Please, consider contacting IQ Decision UK.