Britain’s eventual exit from the European Union (EU), otherwise known as “Brexit”, has the potential to impact the UK’s intellectual property (IP) community in the coming years.
The Referendum result is, as it stands, a decision to leave the EU in the near future – it is only the formal process of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which initiates a two-year period to negotiate a legal exit from the EU.
Until Article 50 is triggered, our IP laws remain fairly unchanged and, any modifications which may arise will come only as a result of the negotiations with the EU on the terms of the UK’s exit plan.
Brexit is unlikely to cause any significant changes to the UK’s current patent system as it will still be possible to obtain a patent in the UK via the European route. This is because the European Patent Office is independent of the EU and is instead governed by an international multilateral treaty called the European Patent Convention.
Whilst it is predicted that UK copyright law is unlikely to be affected, the future of copyright law in the UK will depend on the route adopted during the UK’s negotiations with the EU. If the UK remains in the European Economic Area, then EU copyright legislation should continue to apply in the UK.
However, registered owners of European Union trademarks (EUTMs) are likely to be directly affected by the change. Many predict that for EUTM holders, trademark protection in the UK will also have to be acquired through separate application following Brexit’s implementation.
Furthermore, Britain’s departure from the EU will more than likely impact the adoption of the European Unified Patent with a delay also expected upon the implementation of the Unified Patent Court.
However, until further details are revealed following the UK’s negotiations with the EU, Brexit’s impact on IP remains pure speculation.