We write following the result of yesterday’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, in which UK voters chose to leave the EU.

There is inevitably some uncertainty as to how the UK's relationship with the EU will change in the coming months and years. However, as a first observation, we would note that there is no immediate change in relation to intellectual property law. It is likely to be months if not years before the position changes substantively. In the meantime, we provide some initial observations.

Patents

The UK's membership of the EU has no effect at all on its membership of the European Patent Organisation. As such, European Patents will continue to cover the UK and we will continue to be able to represent clients in all matters before the European Patent Office. Similarly membership of the EU has no effect on any national patents or applications, nor does it have any effect on PCT applications. Enforcement will continue to be available in the UK Courts as presently.

The future of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court must now be uncertain and it seems clear that the UK will now not be a part of that project – should it proceed at all. This, however, does not affect any current rights held by our clients.

Trade marks and designs

These areas of intellectual property are likely to be more greatly affected by the decision to leave the EU. Specifically it is to be expected that EU Trade Mark and Community Design Registrations will in future not apply to the UK. With three offices across France and Luxembourg, whatever changes come into effect, we will remain able to register EU IP rights. There are likely to be transitional provisions to cover community rights filed before the UK formally leaves the EU. It is too early to speculate how those transitional provisions will develop, but for the time being clients should continue with their existing filing strategies. Likewise, there is no change to enforcement routes for the time being.

Transactional work, copyright, etc

Withdrawal from the EU might affect aspects of the law underlying contracts, copyright and other areas of relevance to IP. For the moment, however, nothing will change and things are not likely to move quickly on this aspect.