The UK has not automatically left the EU as a result of the referendum. Notice has to be given to the EU which will trigger a 2 year process to leave. The protection and enforcement of IP rights in the UK remain unchanged and all existing rights unaffected. The law is likely to remain mostly the same during this 2 year period while negotiations take place and new agreements are entered into. We are monitoring the situation closely.
National and EU wide rights already co-exist in relation to registered trade marks and designs. The existing patent system is independent of UK’s membership of the EU. After the 2 year period the likelihood is that trade mark and designs will need to be registered as UK national applications.
At the stage where the UK does leave the EU, the application of the laws applicable to IP rights will be dealt with differently. At present matters can be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU. Following departure from the EU the UK courts will be the final place of determination. There will likely be a change involving the enforcement in the EU of UK judgments and vice versa and new agreements regarding reciprocal enforcements will need to be agreed. All of this will take time and it is too early to tell what the implications will be. The most likely immediate impact upon IP is regarding the Unitary Patent system. It is unlikely that the UPC will now include the UK. There is also the possibility that the UPC will not go ahead if the UK does not ratify the agreement.