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Last checked : 30/11/2018

Intellectual property rights

UK decision to invoke Article 50 of the TEU: More information

As of 30 March 2019, all EU law will cease to apply to the UK, unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date, or the European Council and the UK decide unanimously to extend the two-year negotiation period. For more information about the legal repercussions for businesses:

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property consists of products, work or processes that you have created and which give you a competitive advantage.

There are 3 subcategories:

How can I protect my IP?

You can protect your intellectual property by means of the intellectual property rights (IPR) laid down by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The form of protection depends on the type of IP:

IPRs are still chiefly protected by national rather than EU laws. Defending them in each individual EU country can be complicated and costly. You can save time and money by protecting your intellectual property at EU level.

If you do business in more than one EU country, a European Union trade mark and a registered Community design give you protection in the 28 Member States of the EU in one single registration. You can register your trade mark or design in any of 23 EU languages with a single application at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). An online application costs € 850 for a trade mark and € 350 for a Community design.

You can apply for a national patent at a patent office in an EU country or for a European patent through the European Patent Office (EPO). However, a European patent needs to be validated by the national patent office in each country where protection is required. Depending on the country's law, you may have to provide translations or pay fees by a certain date. More information on costs and procedures from IP Offices in 30 European countries available here.

Dig deeper, country by country:

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* Information not yet provided by national authorities

Counterfeiting (unauthorised imitation of a branded good) and piracy (unauthorised copying of an item covered by an intellectual property right) have reached alarming proportions - with significant implications for innovation, growth, employment and consumer health and safety.

Depending on the law in the EU country in question and the source of counterfeit goods, the authorities to turn to are: customs, market surveillance (trading standards), the police or the patent and trade mark offices.

Protection against counterfeiting

Customs administrations are the front line of defence for your intellectual property rights at EU borders. You can ask them to detain goods suspected of infringing IPR by lodging an application for action with the competent national customs authorities.

While the request for assistance is national, requests deposited in one EU country may be granted the same legal status in all EU countries.

Forms and manual to request action from the customs.

See also:

Related topics

Need support from assistance services?

Get in touch with specialised assistance services

European IPR Helpdesk

Free advice and training on intellectual property management for EU co-funded projects or transnational business deals.

IPR SME Helpdesk

Free advice and business tools to manage your intellectual property in China, Latin America and South-East Asia


National support measures, registration procedures and information on legislation provided by IP offices from 30 European countries.

Local business support - Do you have questions on operating a business cross-border, for example exporting or expanding to another EU country? If so, the Enterprise Europe Network can give you free advice.

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