Clients with European Union (“EU”) trade marks, registered designs and EP patents may be wondering what will happen to their IP protection in the United Kingdom (“UK”) now that the nation has voted to leave the EU.

The good news is that EU IP rights extending to the UK will not be affected in the short-term. The European Patent Office is not an EU institution, so the leave vote will have no effect on EP patents.

However, the long-term effect of Brexit on EU trade marks and registered designs is not yet clear. The relevant IP legislation will remain in force during the next two years, while the exit is negotiated in terms of article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (although this period may be extended). When the UK does eventually leave the EU, it is expected that procedures will be in place for converting European trade marks and registered designs into UK registrations and maintaining the original filing dates. How such conversions will work, and what the cost will be, are not yet certain. The effects of Brexit on the long-awaited European Unitary Patent System, which is not yet in force, also remain unclear.