Now that the UK has voted to exit the European Union, you may be asking – “how does this affect our intellectual property rights in Europe and the UK.” The short answer – it has no immediate affect at all.
Regarding patent rights, any patents and pending patent applications will not be affected in any way. Patent rights are still enforceable, and pending applications will still be examined as they always have. Also, the way patent applications are filed in Europe and the UK will not change. The UK is still a member of the European Patent Convention, which is independent of the European Union and is not impacted by Brexit. Patent applications can still be filed with the European Patent Office, and the UK can still be designated as a country in which patent protection is sought – just as it has in the past. Moreover, if and when the long-anticipated European Patent takes effect (which is expected to cover all European Patent Convention countries), it will still cover the UK.
With regard to trademark rights, existing European Union registered trademarks and registered designs, which currently cover the UK, will not be affected. They are still enforceable in the UK and will remain enforceable in the UK until procedures are implemented for ensuring those rights remain enforceable in the UK after its exit is complete. This will take some time – but nothing needs to be done now.
Lastly, it will take time for the UK to completely exit the European Union – by some estimates, at least two years if not more. We will continue to monitor and work closely with our European and UK intellectual property colleagues to assess how this eventual exit will impact intellectual property, and advise when appropriate. But, for now, it is business as usual.