There is no cause for IP holders to panic because of BREXIT. At most, the vote may change some international IP filing strategies in the years to come.
The June 23, 2016 referendum for Britain to leave the EU should be a slow play as far as IP rights are concerned. The “leave” will be negotiated over the course of a couple years and the United Kingdom will remain a member until such time. It is reasonable to expect the subject matter of IP rights will be a subject of the divorce.
With respect to patents, the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is not an EU organization. It is an international organization established by the European Patent Convention. Consequently, patents filed in either the UK or in the EPO and validated in the UK will not be affected. Currently, there are already countries (like Switzerland) which have the right to file EPO patent applications that are members of the European Union. It is probable that the UK will similarly be able to participate with EPO filings, irrespective of whether it is an EU member.
Registered Community Designs, which are similar to U.S. design patents may be affected. These are European Union devices, so unless the UK negotiates a similar right recognized in the UK, these may not be recognized after BREXIT is finalized.
The European Union Trademark will be affected, and unless otherwise negotiated, these trademarks may not be recognized in the UK after BREXIT. For this reason, holders of EU Trademarks may need to monitor developments with BREXIT IP negotiations to make sure they will maintain rights in countries of interest. They may need to re-file for trademarks in the desired target countries and make sure to establish and/or confirm proper trademark uses of marks in those zones.
Article By John Buche, J.D. Based in San Diego, and with offices in Houston, Buche & Associates, P.C. manages a variety of intellectual property portfolios and works closely with affiliates in the UK and elsewhere in Europe to protect client IP rights. www.texasinvent.com, www.buchelaw.com