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In its recently published draft EU free trade agreement, the British government has purposefully omitted geographical indications (GIs). What this means is that GIs will continue to remain a contentious issue during all upcoming negotiations with the EU. And this, in its turn, will have far-reaching consequences for both UK businesses & foreign individuals seeking to register a company in Great Britain.

What Does it Mean?

Following its withdrawal from the EU, Great Britain has pledged to work on an agreement on future relations with the EU, announcing a transition period until the end of 2020.

Despite taking restrictive measures in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the British government has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of extending the transition period. If no agreement is reached by the said deadline, Great Britain will be trading with the EU under the WTO rules, which will raise a number of issues related to IP protection in the EU & Great Britain.

The proposed free trade agreement, which is based on similar agreements signed with Canadian, South Korean & Japanese governments, outlines Great Britain’s position on various key issues.

IP Protection in Great Britain

Those planning on registering a trademark in Great Britain should keep in mind that an entire chapter in its draft agreement with the EU is devoted to IP protection in England. Under the FTA regulations, both parties are to ensure creation of a trademark registration system in the EU and Great Britain, including putting in place a publicly accessible electronic database of trademark applications & a digital system for filing trademark applications.

However, it is important to keep in mind that instead of a general description of its position regarding GIs, the British government has left an entire section blank, noting that additional text on respective provisions will be proposed in this paragraph.

Since all parties involved require the British government to commit itself to providing reliable protection of GIs in a future deal, it is likely that the EU will soon react to the actions of Great Britain. This, in particular, is due to the fact that all trade transactions in recent years have included provisions on protection of GIs. According to the Director of the European Center for International Political Economy, this suggests that the British side "is trying to abandon geographical indications in order to do trade with the US more likely."

Conclusion

GIs are an issue that will continue to play a key role in the trade negotiations between Great Britain, the EU & the US. 

If you have any questions regarding IP protection regulation in Great Britain or the EU, consider contacting IQ Decision UK for an individual consultation. Our legal experts will be happy to provide you with information on the requirements for registering a trademark in the EU during the transitional period.