Brexit – Your Intellectual Property Rights

courtesy of Fiona McKenzie | MURGITROYD
As you will be aware, the UK has voted to leave the European Union (EU).
 We understand that many companies will be working through issues they may face and the changes that might ensue.
 As a global company with an extensive European office network (with experienced attorneys in Ireland, France, Germany and Italy) and offices in Scandinavia and Switzerland, we are well placed to both work with you and provide you with advice on the Intellectual Property landscape both inside and outside of Europe.
 We do not know when the UK will exit. Once the UK officially notifies the EU of its intention to leave, there is a period of two years in which negotiations for the terms of the exit must be completed.
 We understand that Intellectual Property protection is a key issue and we will be providing regular updates in this regard. Brief details in relation to key intellectual property rights are provided below.
 The European Patent Convention (EPC) is independent of the European Union. The UK’s membership of the European patent system is thus independent of its membership of the EU. Even after the UK leaves the EU, the UK will remain a contracting state of the European Patent Convention; the UK will continue to be available to be designated in a European patent application. UK attorneys will continue to be able to draft and prosecute European and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications for all UK and overseas clients. Thus, there will be no changes to the existing procedures in this regard.
Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent
As you may be aware, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is due to come into existence in 2017, with European patent holders able to request a Unitary Patent (UP) from the date of opening of the UPC. There is likely to be a delay in the opening of the UPC in view of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. We will keep you advised. The UP will now not cover the UK as it is limited to member states of the EU. However, as noted above, protection in the UK will continue to be available via European patents as present.
Trade Marks and Designs
 European Union Trade Marks and Designs remain valid in the UK. There will be no immediate loss of protection. Once the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, EU-based Trade Mark and Design rights with respect to the UK will most probably need to be validated in the UK by way of a conversion procedure without any loss of priority in terms of filing dates. We will keep you informed of the procedures required as and when they are decided between the UK Intellectual Property Office and the EU Intellectual Property Office.