EU 28 Jun 2016

Brexit and IP in the EU

UPDATE 2020-02-14. We now know more about the process after Brexit. Please read the updated information: How Brexit effects your EU trademarks.

Following the announcement of the EU Referendum result on the 24th of June 2016, concerning the UK leaving the European Union, there will likely be some impact on intellectual property rights in the EU. However, existing IP rights and IP rights under prosecution are currently not affected, and as such, there is no need for actions today.

Three systems may be effected by this decision: the EU trademark system, the EU design system, and the upcoming Unitary Patent system.

Regarding the EU trademark system and the EU design system, there is not likely to be any changes until the end of the exit negotiations, which will last for at least two years. European Union Trade Marks and Registered Community Designs remain valid in the UK and there is no immediate loss of IP protection. It is also likely that there will be some mechanism for EUTMs and RCDs to be converted into national UK IP-rights in the future. The outcome will be largely dependent on the negotiations between the UK and EU following the vote. Regardless, it will still be possible to obtain an international trademark registration in the UK since the UK is a Member State of the Madrid System.

Regarding the future Unitary Patent system, the impact to this process is a bit uncertain. According to the current time plan, the Unitary Patent system would come into effect in the beginning of 2017. Given the fact that the UK will be part of the EU until the end of the exit negotiations, which are likely to take at least two years, the UK will still be a member of the EU when the Unitary Patent system comes into place and will have time to ratify the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. If so, the system could still be implemented in the EU according to the current plan with the UK as a member. However, if the UK wants to be a part of the UPC after the exit from EU there need to be changes made in the Agreement by the Administrative Committee to open up accession to non EU Member States or former EU Member States. Should the UK not wish to continue the collaboration concerning the Unitary patent System, or if the system will not allow for non-EU Member State to participate, the UK’s position as one of the cornerstone countries in the collaborative work may significantly halt the progress of the implementation of the Unitary Patent System. However, at this point, these are only theories and future political discussions and votes will decide the outcome.

The Preparatory Committee of the UPC has not yet reacted to the Brexit vote.

As far as we know EPC registrations and applications, and European patent registrations and applications examined or granted under the EPC (where there are several members including Norway, Switzerland and Turkey which are not in the EU), will not be affected.

We will continue to monitor this matter. Please contact us if you have any further questions.

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