The UK government has officially informed the European Union (EU) that it intends to leave the EU triggering a negotiation process which should be concluded within two years.
The full effect of Brexit on IP rights in the UK and Europe is yet to be determined, though some possible scenarios are discussed below.
The UK will still remain a member of the European Patent Convention (EPC) when it leaves the EU. Examination, grant and validation of European patents designating the UK will continue under the current system.
What is uncertain is how the UK leaving the EU will affect the proposed Unified Patent System. So far, 12 EU countries have ratified the Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement, though ratification by both the UK and Germany is still required for the Unitary Patent System to commence.
Our Fresh News article of 2 December 2016 reported the UK’s announced intention to ratify the UPC agreement. Our article also discusses what you should do if you have existing European patents or want patent protection in the EU and UK.
Ratification by the UK and Germany could take place in April or May which would pave the way for the UPC and Unitary Patent System to come into effect before the end of 2017. However, now that the Brexit process has been triggered, this could delay ratification by Germany.
We are closely monitoring the ratification process for the UPC agreement, and will provide further advice about patent strategies for obtaining and enforcing patents in the EU and UK when it is certain that the Unitary Patent System will commence.
The underlying message is that while there is uncertainty about whether the negotiations between the UK and the EU will lead to a ‘Hard Brexit’ or a ‘Soft Brexit’, IP rights holders in Europe should not panic.
Watermark will be closely watching further developments in the UK negotiations with the EU and with various attorneys qualified as UK and/or European Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys. Watermark is well placed to advise you in connection with your existing and future IP rights in UK and Europe.