This brief note is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only.
As you are aware Britain (aka United Kingdom (UK) , England) voted yesterday to leave the European Union (EU). Here is how we expect it to affect (eventually) IP rights. These will likely change based on exit negotiations. FIRST – DON’T PANIC. It will likely take 2 years for more for the exit to be fully effective.
Below is a summary of what we believe will occur. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Patents obtained via the EPO (European Patent Office) and those directly filed in the UK will NOT BE AFFECTED because the EPO is NOT under EU control (it’s a separate organization). Nor is the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) affected by Brexit.
The planned (forever in coming) Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court will be affected as they are part of the EU, but considering they’re not yet in existence – we recommend not worrying at this time.
If you currently have any patent term extensions in the form of Supplementary Protection Certificates they will need to be filed under, as yet unknown, UK provisions. Plan on extra fees in a year or more.
If you have EU Trade Mark registrations they’ll continue to cover the EU but not the UK. Plan on filing in a timely manner for trademark registration directly in the UK.
Community Design Registrations will continue to cover the EU but not the UK. Plan on filing in a timely manner for designs directly in the UK.
Exhaustion of Rights
This is a complicated issue. It is unknown at this time if the UK will remain part of the European Economic Area (EEA). If the UK remains part of the EEA then no changes. If the UK exits the EEA then it’s unknown what exhaustion might or might not apply. Stay tuned and let us know if you’re in this situation
You should review ANY legal documents that deal with Europe or the EU and make sure they are modified to explicitly include or exclude the UK. For example, an existing distribution agreement might state the EU with the prior understanding that the UK was part of the EU.
Contact us if you have specific UK concerns, otherwise we’ll see how Brexit plays out.