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Impact of the Brexit Vote on Your IP

June 27, 2016

By: Susan G. L. Glovsky and Alexander Adam, Ph.D.

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds Alert

  • There are no immediate changes and it could take years for changes to begin; eventual ramifications are unknown.
  • Based on current information, when changes do occur, the greatest change is likely to be for trademarks and designs, with the U.K. and the rest of Europe proceeding on separate paths; no change in European Patents; and if the new Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court go forward, it is likely to be without the U.K. and after a delay.

The U.K. public voted on June 23, 2016, to leave the European Union (EU).  A U.K. exit from the EU will take several years to finalize, and there are many questions about what the vote means to Europe and the global economy.  From an intellectual property (IP) perspective, we see no significant change in the immediate future.

The EU has specific transition provisions that reference a two-year period, and further negotiations between the U.K. and the EU could lead to even greater delay in any implementation.

Focusing on specific European intellectual property protection and tribunals:

European Patents in the U.K.: 
Nothing is expected to change in the existing process for obtaining European Patents in the U.K. since the European Patent Office (EPO) is governed by the European Patent Convention.  The EPO is not a European Union (EU) entity, and the EPO should continue to grant European patents that can be validated in the U.K.

U.K. Patents:
There will be no change.  Applicants will still be able to file direct U.K. patent applications and U.K. national phase patent applications from PCT applications.

Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC): 
The U.K. may not be able to participate in the new Unitary Patent and UPC process, absent a new treaty or change in existing law.  Introduction of the Unitary Patent and establishment of the UPC will likely be delayed as a result of the exit of the U.K.   

EU Trademarks and Designs:
Agreements will need to be worked out for existing registrations to provide for conversion for continued protection in the U.K.  Until the U.K.’s exit is complete, all European rights are expected to continue to have effect in the U.K.

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