Following a referendum vote on 23 June 2016, the British electorate has decided to leave the European Union (EU). However, it is likely to be at least 2 years before legislation is enacted to enable the United Kingdom (UK) to exit the EU. During that time, EU legislation remains in effect.

Key messages relating to your existing UK rights are outlined below.

UK National IP Rights

UK national IP rights will not be affected by the UK exit from the EU.

Patents

Patents obtained via the European Patent Organisation will not be affected by the UK exit from the EU. UK 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. Similarly, membership of the EU has no effect on any UK national patents or applications.

Trade Marks and Designs

EU registered trade marks and registered designs, which currently cover the UK, will remain in place and will be enforceable in the UK until new provisions are put in place. It is expected that EU Trade Mark and Community Design Registrations may not apply to the UK in the future. There are likely to be transitional provisions to cover community rights filed before the UK formally leaves the EU. Whilst it is too early to speculate how those transitional provisions will develop, clients with EU registered trade marks who currently use those marks only in the UK, may wish to start planning now to expand use of their mark to at least one other EU country. An EU registered trade mark that has not been used in an EU country for five years becomes vulnerable to cancellation, so if your current use is only in the UK, you should ensure that you have used the trade mark in another EU country within the next five years.

Copyright, Contracts and other Legal IP Rights

Withdrawal from the EU might impact aspects of UK law underlying contracts, copyright and other areas of relevance to IP. For the moment, however, nothing will change.

Next Steps

Through our network of UK and European Agents, we are keeping abreast of developments and will provide you with further information as it comes to hand.