Applicants for intellectual property protection in Europe can choose between filing applications in the national intellectual property offices of individual countries, or using the European offices that grant protection effective in multiple countries. Whilst the UK remains a member state of the European Patent Convention, even after Brexit, the EU law governing European trade mark and design protection no longer applies in the UK.
Where protection is needed in more than just a few European countries, the most cost-effective and efficient approach is usually to obtain protection through the European Patent Office (EPO).
Please click the link for more information on country and costs strategy for patent protection in Europe.
The EPO grants patents that can take effect across almost the whole of Europe, including all European Union member states plus several other countries that are not part of the EU, such as the UK, Switzerland and Norway. A single application can be filed, in English, and that application is processed centrally up to the point at which a European patent is granted. It is then necessary to choose the countries in which the patent is to take effect; at that stage, the single European patent becomes a set of individual national patents that are just like patents granted by the individual national patent offices.
For more information on European patent applications please click on the links below:
For trade marks and designs, whilst truly unified European Union registration systems are in place, and are very widely used, the UK is no longer a member state. Whilst UK applicants can apply to register trade marks and designs in the EU, since Brexit it is normal to apply in the UK first and then to consider an EU registration alongside other overseas territories. By filing an application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (known as EUIPO), it is still possible to obtain a registration that covers the whole of the European Union, at much lower cost than even just a few national registrations.
For more information about registering a trade mark in Europe download our guide to Obtaining Trade Marks Overseas.