On June 23, citizens of the UK voted in a referendum to break away from the European Union. By a narrow margin of 52% to 48% of the votes, the United Kingdom’s decision was to exit the EU, commonly referred to as Brexit.
This decision will not have any immediate effects on the protection of Intellectual Property rights of companies doing business in Europe or the United Kingdom. Those rights shall remain protected until new rules are fully established. However, it is expected that, over time, the Brexit will impact areas such as domain names, patents, trademarks and design registrations.
Eventually, it is likely that new registrations of Community Trademarks, for example, may no longer include the UK. If the titleholders want this protection, both in the European Union as well as in the UK, it may be necessary to file two separate applications. One hypothesis, based on the fact that the Brexit formalization and transition may take up to two years, is that the registrations already granted in the Community Trademark system may be gradually validated on their own by the United Kingdom, so that their titleholders do not lose the rights they have already acquired.
Concerning patents, Brexit will not affect the fact that the United Kingdom will remain a member state of the Unitary Patent System. Therefore, there will be no immediate changes in how a European patent or a patent application covers the UK. It is not yet known whether the United Kingdom will or will not ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement before formally transitioning out of the European Union. It is known, however, that the London section of the UPC must be reallocated to another Member State, which will probably delay the implementation of the agreement. It is also expected that the Brexit may result in legal changes in the life sciences sector, but the adopted models will only be known after the UK formalizes the transition out of the EU.
At present, it is not necessary to take any action but we will continue to monitor any changes in legislation and agreements involving intellectual property rights in the European Union that may have global reach.
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