This article was written on 29 March 2017. The content was relevant at the time of writing, but may have since changed. For our latest Brexit updates, please access our Brexit Hub.
On March 28 2017, Theresa May formally notified the European Union of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. What does this mean for your intellectual property rights?
Initially, there will be no change, since the official departure of the UK from the EU will not occur until the end of the two-year negotiating period allowed for by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Once the departure is official, there will still be no change to the prosecution or granting of European patents, since this is governed by the European Patent Convention and is separate to the EU. For other European rights, including European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs) and Registered Community Designs (RCDs), the impact of Brexit will depend on the outcome of the negotiations between the UK government and the remaining member states. EUTMs and RCDs remain in force and cover the United Kingdom. We will keep you informed of developments as the negotiations progress.
As for the Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent package, the current intention is for the UK to remain part of the system. The rules governing the implementation of the UPC require the UK to ratify the Agreement before it comes into force, and the UK Minister for IP has stated that the UK will ratify. The current timeline is for the UPC to be operational by the end of 2017.
National UK intellectual property rights, including trademarks and designs, will be unaffected.
Do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual Kilburn & Strode advisor if you have any questions or require further information.