Intellectual property team comments on Brexit

30 Jun 2016

Intellectual property

The UK has not automatically left the EU as a result of the referendum.  Notice has to be given to the EU by the UK Government which will trigger a 2 year process to leave.  The protection and enforcement of IP rights in the UK remains unchanged and all existing rights (both UK and EU) are unaffected.  The law is likely to remain the same during this 2 year period while negotiations take place and new agreements are entered into. We are monitoring the situation closely.

National and EU wide rights already co-exist in relation to registered trade marks and designs.  The existing patent system is independent of UK’s membership of the EU.  After the 2 year period the likelihood is that trade mark and designs will need to be registered as UK national applications. Exactly how this will be achieved is not clear yet, but please contact us if you have any queries or concerns. 

At the stage where the UK does leave the EU, the application of the laws applicable to IP rights will be dealt with differently.  At present, matters can be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU.  Following departure from the EU the UK courts will be the final place of determination. There will likely be a change involving the enforcement in the EU of UK judgments and vice versa and new arrangements regarding reciprocal enforcements will need to be agreed. All of this will take time and it is too early to tell exactly what direction this will take or what the implications will be.  The most likely immediate impact upon IP is regarding the Unitary Patent system, and in particular the Unitary Patent Court (UPC).  It is unlikely (but not certain) that the UPC will now include the UK.  There is also the possibility that the UPC will not go ahead at all if the UK does not ratify the agreement.

It is likely that for some considerable time there will be more questions than answers for intellectual property law, but Collyer Bristow is fully focussed on protecting and enforcing our clients’ rights however the legal and procedural structures may change.


If you have any queries or concerns, please speak either to your usual contact or to our IP Brexit specialist, Karen Fong.

Additional information