As you will be aware following a National referendum the UK has voted to leave the European Union. This will have a significant impact on UK business practices and legislation including intellectual property.
Whilst change is inevitable in the longer term, for the time being it is business as usual for UK Plc. The UK will only cease to be a member of the EU once Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked and subsequent withdrawal negotiations are concluded. At the very least, this will take 2 years.
From an IP perspective, the referendum decision has no impact on the UK’s relationship with the European Patent Office. The EPO is not an EU institution and is independently governed by the European Patent Convention. The UK will remain a member of the EPC and SH&P will continue to represent applicants before the EPO irrespective of the EU exit negotiations.
European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) and Registered Community Design (RCD) protection secured at the European Intellectual Property Office (EU IPO) will continue to have effect in the UK for the foreseeable future. When the UK formally leaves the EU it is highly unlikely that all EUTMs and RCDs secured up to that point will cease to have effect in the UK. The likelihood is that the UKIPO and EUIPO will agree on a transitional system whereby existing EUTMs and RCDs can be “converted” into national UK rights. Therefore, for existing EU rights, until the terms of a transitional system are known owners need not incur the cost of re-registration in the UK.
For new trade marks and designs, it remains our position that trade mark and design owners should continue to use the EUTM and RCD system for the foreseeable future, irrespective of the UK vote to leave the EU. It goes without saying that SH&P remains on hand to advise you on all aspects of EU IP strategy.
SH&P will continue to provide you with the usual high levels of representation before both the EUIPO and EPO. We cannot predict the final outcome of the UK’s negotiated withdrawal from the EU. However, we can reassure our clients that, in conjunction with the likes of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA), Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), International Trade Mark Association (INTA) and the UK Intellectual Property Office, we will lobby both the UK Government and European Parliament to ensure that a suitable mechanism is put in place which allows legal rights secured under existing EUTMs and RCDs to be maintained in the UK after it leaves the EU.
With over 100 years involvement in the UK intellectual property field, SH&P is no stranger to change. Whatever the outcome of the exit negotiations, we will continue to adapt and evolve to continue to provide our clients with the high quality of service they have come to expect.