Last week, roughly a month after Britain voted to leave the EU, we posted an article examining the implications Brexit could have on employment law and patents. In this second article, we will examine what Brexit could mean for Data protection and Intellectual property; we’ll also speak to one of our small business customers to see how they think business will be affected post-Brexit. If you missed our last article you can find it here.
The implications Brexit has for data protection are not immediate – again, this will be a matter for the Brexit negotiations. For now, the national data protection agency (the Information Commissioner’s Office or ICO) has underlined that ‘international consistency around data protection laws and rights is crucial, both the businesses and organizations and to consumers and citizens’.
One thing is certain though: If the UK wants to continue trading with EU member states they will have to adopt similar legislation to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (a revised set of regulations surrounding Data Protection in the EU which will come into effect May 25th 2018).
The GDPR applies not only to businesses within the EU, but also to businesses outside of the EU that process personal data of EU citizens, meaning that even post-Brexit, these regulations will apply to UK businesses.
The implications Brexit has on intellectual property will depend on the form the coming negotiations take, as well as on whether Britain decides to join the European Economic Area.
For trademarks and designs, the pending exit from the EU could mean a significant change. The UK is currently part of the EU Trade Mark regime and the Registered Community Design regime. To gain protection across 28 member states of the EU, an applicant need only file one application and pay a single application fee. Once the UK has left the EU, current EUTM holders would have to register for UK national trade marks in order to receive protection in the UK. Existing registrations which have been primarily used in the UK could be at risk of revocation for non-use post-Brexit.
Caroline McKean from it leaders ltd, a management training company, has already begun planning for a future where Britain is no longer in the EU:
‘The effects of Brexit on our business haven’t been fully felt yet; currently our sales level is bubbling along. We do however have delegates from around the world and the weaker pound will have an influence – as a management training company we expect to see a slowdown in sales within the UK over the coming months as business deals with uncertainty, slowing investment and slashing of budgets. The key for us will be to hold onto cash by keeping our cost base low, concentrate on business from oversees, take advantage of the weaker pound and cut prices. This is by no means an ideal situation for a training company and the next couple of years will be fraught with uncertainty, however we aim to concentrate our efforts in the UK on companies that are doing relatively well as a result of the devaluation of the pound. We do, however realise this will be short lived due to the UK’s balance of payments deficit and its effects on inflation.
In the long term, there will need to be a fundamental mind-set change and adjustment to the country’s attitude to world trade, with a structural rebalancing’
There is no doubt the implications Brexit has will lead to some of the biggest changes for England this century. The extent of its effects remain to be seen and will depend largely on the coming negotiations.
If you’d like more information download our free Brexit e-book at and visit the Small Business Centre for more information on Business challenges, views, opinions and much more.