On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to end its membership in the European Union. While the divorce of the United Kingdom from the European Union will not happen overnight, this does leave questions for organizations and individuals who have intellectual property rights in the European Union, given the linkages between the UK national system and the European IP systems.

How will this impact European Union Trademark Registrations:

Due to the significant period of time it will take to work out the legal formalities of the UK’s departure from the EU, rights holders are generally being advised that it will likely take years before we start to see the impact on intellectual property systems.

For now, all EU Trade Marks (EUTM) which are registered or currently pending through the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) will effectively retain rights to the United Kingdom. Until the UK formally leaves the EU, all new EUTM applications filed after June 23 with the EUIPO will retain the benefit of protection within the UK. Details of a conversion process will be forthcoming.

At this point we recommend:

  1. If your business in Europe includes the UK, we recommend filing a UK national trade mark application for any new marks, in addition to filing with the EUIPO.
  2. As the potential conversion process to transfer EUTM rights to UK rights has not been finalized, consider taking a proactive approach and also file in the UK for any of your existing European Community trade mark registrations.

How will this impact the European Patent Office:

We do not anticipate any significant impact on pending patent applications or registrations. The European Patent Office is not part of the EU administrative structure, and the European Patent Convention will not necessarily be impacted by the “Brexit” vote. We anticipate that your European patent applications will be unaffected, and that you will still be able to use that channel to ultimately enter the UK patent system.

We have been advised by our colleagues in the UK that they will keep us apprised of any developments, but for the time being it is “business as usual”. If you have any questions regarding the implications of Brexit for your existing or future IP rights, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact a patent or trademark professional at MLT.