The UK has voted to leave the European Union. Important points to note are:
- European patents and patent applications will not be affected, as the European Patent Office is not an EU institution. We are still able to file and prosecute European patent applications for all UK and overseas clients.
- EU registered trade marks and designs will continue to provide protection in the UK until appropriate provisions are implemented to provide continued protection in the UK following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
1. It is business as usual for now
The UK will not immediately cease to be a member of the EU. The terms of the UK’s exit will need to be negotiated and some estimates suggest that this could take up to two years, if not longer. Therefore, for now, we shall continue to operate as we do currently, and UK and overseas IP owners will not lose any IP rights or any access to EU IP registration systems.
2. European patent applications are entirely unaffected
The UK’s membership of the European patent system is independent of membership of the EU. Therefore, we are still able to file and prosecute European patent applications for all UK and overseas clients. European patent applicants will not lose any rights and patents already obtained via the European Patent Office are unaffected.
3. EU trade mark and design rights holders will not lose national protection
Owners of existing EU trade mark and design rights will not lose out when the UK leaves the EU. EU trade mark and design registrations currently cover the UK, so it is almost certain that the UK IPO will introduce a transitional procedure to convert such rights into equivalent national UK rights. We will be able to handle all such transitional work for our clients when the time comes.
4. The future of the Unitary Patent and the Unitary Patent Court will initially be unclear
The three largest filing EU member states (currently France, Germany and the UK) must ratify the UPC agreement for it to come into effect. France has already ratified. Once the UK has left the EU, we believe that the third largest EU filer will be The Netherlands. However, without the UK’s participation, the future of the project becomes unclear. It is possible that the UPC will be abandoned because, without the UK, the system may no longer be economically attractive to applicants.
5. UK IP rights remain entirely unaffected
It almost goes without saying, but all UK national IP rights are unaffected.