In a welcome statement, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) has confirmed that following the UK's vote to leave the European Union (EU), nothing will change in the short term for intellectual property protection in this and other European countries. When the UK leaves the EU, only certain issues will change, e.g. regarding trade marks, and patent protection will remain the same. This confirms our initial thoughts on the intellectual property landscape following the referendum.
For patents, the present European system for obtaining patents will remain the same and we at Dehns will remain able to act as European Patent Attorneys. This is because the European Patent Office is separate and independent from the EU. Indeed the countries currently covered by a European patent include some non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland. Therefore, when the UK leaves the EU, patent protection in the UK would still be able to be obtained via a European patent.
For trade marks and registered designs the system may change, were the UK to leave the EU. This is because the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is an EU institution. It is therefore envisaged that when the UK leaves the EU, EU trade marks and EU registered designs would no longer cover the UK and protection in the UK would need to be obtained separately. As Dehns has an office in Munich, our trade mark and design attorneys will still be able to obtain EU protection for our clients. For existing rights holders, it is likely that transitional arrangements will be put in place to ensure that rights under existing EU trade mark registrations continue to have effect in the UK. CIPA and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) are working to ensure this.
Some of the changes that may occur when the UK leaves the EU are as yet unknown but we are monitoring the situation carefully and will provide updates when they develop.
The European Patent Convention (EPC) and the European Patent Office (EPO) are NOT EU institutions. Therefore, UK patent attorneys who are qualified European Patent Attorneys will still be able to represent clients in all work before the EPO. UK trainees will still be able to qualify as European Patent Attorneys. European patent applicants will not lose any rights and patents already obtained via the European Patent Office will remain unaffected. European patent attorneys based in the UK have a strong track record of representing clients before the EPO in prosecution, oppositions and appeals. This will continue.