On 29 March 2017, the UK government formally notified the President of the European Council of its intention to withdraw the UK from the European Union.
This notification marks the beginning of negotiations between the UK government and the EU to decide the terms of withdrawal. Under the terms of the relevant EU treaty, these negotiations will last for a minimum of two years. Therefore, until at least March 2019, the UK will remain a member of the EU, and it will be business as usual as regards the protection and enforcement of EU intellectual property rights in the UK.
Long-term, part of the government’s withdrawal negotiations may involve changes to pan-EU intellectual property rights (particularly EU Trade Marks and Community Registered Designs). Depending on the terms negotiated, a process for dividing such pan-EU registrations into separate EU and national UK registrations is likely to be put in place. However, these changes will not come into effect for at least the next 2 years, and we expect plenty of notice will be provided so that rights holders can take action in the unlikely event that the agreement reached does not ensure protection in both jurisdictions is continued automatically.
The UK’s membership of the European Patent System is independent of its membership of the European Union, and so is unaffected by the withdrawal.
Whatever the result of negotiations, Beck Greener will continue to represent clients before the European Patent Office and the European Intellectual Property Office after the UK leaves the EU in several years’ time, and again therefore it remains very much business as usual.