June 24, 2016

Brexit Stage Right

By Bryan K. Wheelock, Principal

The Brexit referendum has raised a number of issues related to disentangling United Kingdom from the European Union.  Intellectual Property owners are understandably concerned about their European Intellectual property.

Patents

There is no need to be concerned about European Patents.  The European Patent Convention predates the 1993 establishment of the European Union.  Among the 38 contracting states to the EPC, several are not members of the EU: Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey.  Upon the departure of United Kingdom from the EU, it can continue its membership in the EPC.

The United Kingdom leaving the EU will impact the proposed new Unitary Patent system and the Unified Patent Court. The United Kingdom was one of the jurisdictions required to ratify the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court, and London was one of the agreed locations for the Unified Patent Court.

Trademarks

With respect to the European Union Trade Mark system, the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU will likely affect the geographic scope of European Union Trademarks.  Some provision will be made to continue the protection of European Union Trademark registrations in the United Kingdom post-separation.  There will be at least two years before the separation occurs, and during which this transition issue will certainly be resolved.  For new applications, applicants should consider a Madrid Protocol application designating both the Community Trademark and the United Kingdom.

Designs

With respect to Community Designs, the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU will likely affect the geographic scope of Community Designs.  Some provision will be made to continue the protection of designs in the United Kingdom post-separation.  As pointed out above, it will be at least two years before the separation occurs, and during which this transition issue will certainly be resolved. For applications filed today, applicants should consider filing both United Kingdom and the European Community designs applications.  If the United Kingdom joins the Hague Convention, this double filing will become easier.