As the referendum date of 23rd June 2016 approaches, we are starting to get some idea of what it would mean if Brexit happens. In the world of Intellectual Property, it would be a difficult time for any British company trading in Europe and a difficult time for their attorneys.
Recently published figures show that the UK is the 2nd largest filer of European Trademark applications, behind Germany. According to Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union, the UK filed 12, 527 trademarks with the EUIPO in 2015. This is 14% of the total. Germany filed 23% of applications followed by Italy and Spain with 11% each.
This clearly shows that UK companies mean business in Europe and it emphasises the importance of the European free market to UK companies.
It is also worth noting that we are on the threshold of the long awaited European Unitary Patent – a single application delivering a single European patent with effect in a decent number of European states.
The Unitary European Patent will be renewable at the EPO and enforceable across the EU through one of a number of dedicated European Courts. Brexit could put all of this hard work to the wall. The UK is written into the legislation and one of the European Patent Courts is lined up to be in London.
It is fairly clear that if the UK votes for Brexit, then not only will the legislation have to be re-drafted, but the UK will lose its European Unitary Patent Court. Worse than this, our very competent judiciary will be unable to take part in the other European courts.
Surely British businesses will want at least the option to be included in the Unitary European Patent and to have the knowledge that if they litigate centrally that our outstanding Judges will be representing us in Europe and setting the judicial standard?