Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU ("Brexit"), what does this mean for your intellectual property rights? 

Any existing UK national intellectual property rights will be unaffected by the UK leaving the EU. This means that any UK patents (including European patents that designate the UK), UK designs and UK trade marks (including International (Madrid Protocol) Trade Mark Registrations that designate the UK) will continue to apply in the UK. Moreover, the UK will continue to be available as a designated state of a European patent application after the UK leaves the EU.

However, EU-wide trade mark and design rights will cease to apply in the UK post-Brexit. These EU-wide rights include registered Community designs and registered EU trade marks. The UK's departure from the EU is also likely to affect the proposed Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC).

It is expected that provisions will be put in place to allow conversion of existing EU-wide rights into equivalent national UK rights when the UK formally leaves the EU. It is not yet known whether this will be an automatic step or whether it will require a request which may or may not need to be accompanied by a fee.

Potter Clarkson is extremely well positioned to continue to handle your IP portfolio when the UK departs from the EU. In view of our existing EU based offices in Stockholm, Lund and Munich we will continue to file, prosecute and make representations at the EUIPO. It is therefore “business as usual” from our perspective and we will continue to provide strategic global advice and representation across all aspects of your IP portfolio.

It may be beneficial to consider filing national UK registrations alongside EU-wide registrations. Please contact one of our patent or trade mark attorneys  if you would like to discuss this possibility further, or require any further information regarding the impact of Brexit on your intellectual property.

With the Government having officially triggered Article 50 on the 29 March 2017, we will continue to keep you updated on the UK's position regarding intellectual property in a post-Brexit landscape.