This morning, we awoke to the news that the U.K. has voted to exit the European Union. Our first thought was whether this vote, and the expected unwinding of the U.K. from the European legal system, will have any impact on our clients’ European intellectual property rights in the U.K. At this time, the short answer is no.
First, rights in any intellectual property that have been protected in the U.K. will be unaffected.
Second, with respect to patents, because the Unitary Patent system for EU-wide protection has not yet come into force, patent rights in the U.K. also are unaffected. Regardless, since the U.K. will remain part of the European Patent Convention, patents originating in the U.K. will be treated no differently than those originating in other, non-EU countries which are part of the Convention such as Norway and Switzerland.
Perhaps the biggest impact that could be felt from the Brexit vote is in the trademark space, as European Union Trademarks (“EUTMs”) and registered Community Designs currently cover all of the European Union, including of course the U.K. However, at this time, and until new regulations are enacted, EUTMs will remain enforceable in the U.K. It is unknown at the moment when these regulations will be created, but our foreign counsel have assured us there is no cause for alarm, and there is no need to rush to the U.K. trademark office to apply to register trademarks that are protected in the EU but not separately in the U.K.
We will continue to monitor developments to ensure that you are up to date on any new U.K. laws which affect your intellectual property rights abroad, but if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact any of KMK’s Intellectual Property Group lawyers.
KMK Blog Posts are intended to bring attention to developments in the law and are not intended as legal advice for any particular client or any particular situation. Please consult with counsel of your choice regarding any specific questions you may have.
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