24 June 2016

The IP implications of the UK’s vote to leave the EU

It is important to note that this vote does not affect Mathys & Squire’s ability to represent its clients in the UK or in Europe.

EP Patents

The vote to leave the EU will not affect the UK’s relationship with the European Patent Office (EPO).

The EPO is governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC) and is not an EU institution. There are already several non-EU member states that are members of the EPC, including Switzerland, Norway and Turkey.

The UK will therefore remain a member of the EPC, regardless of its departure from the EU, and patent protection in the UK will still be available by filing a European patent application at the EPO. Our European patent attorneys will continue to be able to file and prosecute European patent applications, and handle EPO oppositions and appeals on behalf of all our clients.

EU trade marks and registered designs

Although the UK’s exit from the EU will have an impact on EU trade marks and registered designs, the ramifications are not immediately clear.

For now, however, the UK is still a member state of the EU, and all the legislation that gives effect to EU law is still in place. Nothing as a matter of law has changed as a result of the vote to leave. Instead, the vote marks the beginning of a legal process whereby the UK will notify the European Council of its decision to withdraw from the EU. That will initiate the formal process of withdrawal, which is intended to be effected by negotiation and agreement in a subsequent two year period. Given the complexity of the relationship between the EU and the UK, it may be that this two year period is extended until an agreement is reached.

Thus, in the immediate future, there are unlikely to be any changes to existing rights or to new applications for EU trade marks and registered designs. However, we will closely monitor the situation and will provide updates as and when we know more.

Rest assured, we remain a European business, and will take all necessary steps to ensure that the services that we provide in respect of EU trade marks and registered designs remain unaffected.

If you have any questions about this topic please contact your attorney at Mathys & Squire for more information.