What is the European Union?
The European Union (EU) is currently made up of 28 countries that work together to create a more stable economic and political environment. One of the main drivers behind the creation of the EU was to help improve trading between the member countries.
This led to the development of the ‘European single market’ which allows products and services to be freely traded as if all the members were within one single country.
Why is Britain leaving the European Union?
On the 23rd June 2016, the UK went to the polls to vote on whether it should leave the EU or remain part of it. Over 30 million people voted in the referendum, with the result that the Leave campaign won with just under 52% of vote.
The vote was considered a protest vote in backlash to perceived decline in the National Health Service, high levels of immigration and EU regulation.
What is Article 50?
Article 50 is the mechanism by which countries can leave the European Union and was created as part of the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, this then became law in 2009.
What date will the UK leave the EU?
Article 50 was triggered on the 29th March 2017 which means that the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on Friday, 29th March 2019. There is however an extension clause that can be triggered if all 28 members of the EU agree.
Is Albright IP fully authorised to act in Europe?
Yes, we are still and will continue to be fully authorised to act in Europe. Our clients will see no change in our service.
Does Brexit affect European Patent attorney representation?
No, Brexit does not affect attorney representation.
Should we continue to send Albright IP European instructions?
Yes, for all our European Trade Mark, design and Patent work it is business as usual.
Will Albright IP be fully authorised following Brexit?
Yes, whatever the outcome of Brexit, Albright will continue to be fully authorised to act in Europe.
What impact will Brexit have on registered EU Trade Marks and registered community designs (RCDs)?
It is likely that existing EU Trade Mark and design registrations will, in some way, continue in force in the UK. However, the details are yet to be determined, and for now, we are recommending that clients apply for both a UK Trade Mark (UKTM) in addition to a EUTM, to ensure that they are fully protected.
This will not only avoid uncertainty, but also add value to their IP. The same advice applies to registered designs.
After Brexit, new EU Trade Mark and design registrations will not cover the UK, unless a bilateral agreement is made. This currently looks unlikely.
What impact will Brexit have upon Patents?
The decision to leave the EU will not affect EU Patent holders. Companies will not lose any rights and Patents already obtained via the European Patent Office will remain in force with no change.
Brexit will not restrict the ability of European Patent attorneys in the UK from carrying out European Patent work on your behalf. The present European Patent system is governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC), which was signed independently of the EU.
The EPC covers many more countries than just those within the EU. The UK is still an intrinsic part of the European Patent system and will remain so even when it leaves the EU.
How will Brexit affect the proposed new unitary Patent system?
The long-awaited introduction of the new European Patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) was anticipated to come into effect in 2017. However, it has been delayed due to a challenge in the German courts.
The UK was set to play a key role in the unitary system by hosting a branch of the Court in London, but with Brexit, this is thrown into question. Recently, it has been announced that negotiations have begun to enable the UK to remain part of the new unitary system with London retaining a specialist technical section of the Court.
With the world-class technical and legal knowledge of the UK judges, this does make sense.
Whilst we welcome the unitary Patent, which will benefit some of our international clients, for smaller players, we may well advise opting out and continuing with traditional validation of European Patents.
This is because, for example, a UK company may not wish to sue another British company on a mechanical engineering Patent in the Central Court in Germany.
Rather, they may wish to take advantage of the low cost and predictability of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in the UK.
They may also not want to risk losing their patent in a challenge across all states in a single hearing.
In any event, not all EPC member states have signed up to the unitary system and so for some countries, national validation will still be required.