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Top tips for preparing your business for Brexit – product development

Brexit will require companies to revisit their product offering in order to assess whether their products and services still meet the needs of their existing customer base.

Companies will need to assess the compliance requirements of products and services to ensure that they remain compliant in existing markets based on the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU.

Consideration must also be given to trademarks and patents. The UK’s departure from the EU will require businesses which hold IP to assess whether they still have adequate protection to secure the rights of intangible assets.

Understanding the Brexit impact on your existing customers

Businesses should engage with key accounts in order to understand the impact of Brexit on their customer base. These discussions should be focussed on identifying whether existing products will still meet the needs of customers subsequent to Brexit, and/or whether there is a necessity to modify or create new lines.

B2B-focussed businesses should also ensure that they understand the implications of their wider customer supply chain through these discussions. Going through this process will help pre-empt critical issues as well as identify new revenue-generating opportunities from a move to buy British to overcome potential supply issues.

Top Tips

  • Enter into discussions with key customers to assess Brexit’s impact on them and their end customers.
  • Understand the Brexit impact on the wider supply chain of key customers.
  • Assess whether there is a need to modify products to meet the requirements of existing customers.

New markets

If conversations from understanding the Brexit impact on existing customers identify potential opportunities in new international markets, businesses must consider whether existing products will need to be modified to appeal to these new markets. This could include a requirement to register new IP or to change the specifications of products to be licensed in new overseas markets.

Top Tips

  • From conversations with customers, identify whether there is an opportunity to target new overseas markets.
  • Engage with regional international trade advisers to understand Department for International Trade (DIT) compliance and IP support available for potential new target markets.

Compliance and safety

In order to continue to trade without disruption businesses will need to ensure that their products remain compliant with existing markets, both within and outside the EU.

It is expected that UK laws related to compliance and safety will not diverge for the foreseeable future from their EU equivalents. However, businesses should still take the time to gain an understanding of safety standards and regulatory requirements relevant to them in order to mitigate risk.

A change from EU-registered products to UK-registered ones may be necessary. This is likely to require some administration to manage re-registrations, alongside the potential need to update customer and supplier contracts.

Top Tips

  • Consider the impact to the business of a potential change in product registration.
  • Gauge potential impact of this on customers and suppliers.

Claim R&D costs

If further investment in products is needed, businesses should investigate whether there are grants or tax incentives available for related activity.

Top Tips

  • Identify the costs of research and development (R&D) on new and existing products.
  • Use your local enterprise partnership (LEP) or growth hub to identify potential grants available to support this investment.
  • If applicable, and if you have not done so already, engage with an R&D claims specialist or speak to your accountant to understand if there are any tax incentives available.

Trademarks and patents

The UK’s exit from the EU may result in trademarks and patents having to be re-registered in the UK. This may affect their viability in international markets. Businesses should review all existing IP in order to assess whether suitable protections will be given for overseas EU and non-EU markets, or whether, in some instances, they may need to make new applications to secure IP in international markets.

This may require engaging third-party legal specialists in order to fully understand the impact of IP changes.

Top Tips

  • Collate an inventory of all trademarks and patents including the territories which they relate to.
  • Where re-registration from the EU to the UK is needed, assess whether this would impact validity in your current international markets.
  • Consider the potential IP requirements, for both existing markets and any new ones post-Brexit. 

Additional sources

Other guides in this series