A number of intellectual property rights are granted at the European Union level and are valid in all Member States. These rights are governed by European Union law and grant their holders the same rights, regardless of the Member State in which they are invoked. For example, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) grants unitary trademarks and models, while the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) grants unitary plant variety rights. Lastly, geographical names (such as appellations of origin and geographical indications) may be registered with the European Commission for unitary protection.

As a general principle, the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union means that these unitary intellectual property rights are no longer valid in the territory of the United Kingdom as of 1 January 2021. However, they remain valid in the territory of the 27 other Member States and states where the European Union legislation on intellectual property rights is applied, such as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

To maintain the same geographical protection, as a user of unitary systems of intellectual property protection, you must apply for both a unitary right and a UK right. This involves additional costs and may discourage you from applying for protection in the UK, which could have an impact on EU exports to the UK.

With respect to unitary intellectual property rights already granted or pending at the end of the transition period, the Withdrawal Agreement provides for transitional measures.

Last update
23 February 2024