After the shock of the historical decision last week which saw just shy of 52% of the UK vote to leave the EU, the big question on the minds of owners of EU patent, trade mark and design rights is what does this mean for them.

It is envisaged that no immediate changes in law or practice will occur, and over the coming years the tricky details of how to extract the UK from the EU will be thrashed out, with October 2018 being earmarked as the earliest date when these changes will begin to take effect.

For now:

  • The consistent message coming out of the UK is that for the time being it’s business as usual, and there is no need to panic. No surprises there.
  • It will take some time to chart a course for the UK to leave the EU. There will be no quick exit.
  • The UK’s decision to leave the EU will not impact on UK national patent, trade mark and design rights. Also, given the European Patent Convention (EPC) system is not part of the EU, the UK’s departure from the EU does not affect the UK’s membership of the EPC.
  • As for EU IP rights that have effect in the UK, such as European Union Trade Marks and Registered Community Designs, once the UK exits the EU these trade mark and design rights will cease to apply in the UK. We expect transitional provisions will come into play to ensure that these trade mark and registered design rights are protected in the UK.