As you will no doubt know by now, on 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. While the precise impact of the “Brexit” is unclear at this stage, the “leave” vote will definitely have implications on how you manage and enforce your Intellectual Property rights in Europe.
Key take away points:
- Overall: in the short term, it is business as usual with an orderly transition for registered rights envisaged.
Short / medium priorities:
- Licensing / brand sharing: Any existing and new IP licence, agreements, etc. that include a definition of the EU (e.g. as the territory) should be checked to see whether it is the EU as constituted at the date of agreement or as constituted from time to time. Amendments may be required.
- Patents: No changes expected to existing patent laws in the UK and Europe (EPC). Notably, the EPC is entirely independent from the EU. There will be an impact on the pending Unitary Patent, but it is not possible to foresee where that will end up.
- Trade Marks / Designs: No immediate changes for UK and EU designs and trade marks. Once the UK has left the EU (not for several years still), it is expected that the EUTMs/RCDs would be split and the UK part be transformed into a national UK right, with the rest of the EUTM/RCD covering the remainder of the EU.
- Copyright: No immediate changes expected for copyright laws, though impact of separation on territorial licensing to be seen once the UK is no longer subject to EU competition laws.
- Sui Generis Database Rights: Databases created in the UK may no longer be protected.
Trade Secrets: It is unclear whether the UK will implement the recently passed Trade Secrets Directive.
What next? For further detail, please see our client alert “Brexit” and the potential impact on your IP – what do you need to do now?