What happens next?
The EU exit procedure is not designed to make it easy to leave – Greenland is the only territory to have left before. The vote to leave starts the process of withdrawal, but under the relevant EU treaty there will be a period of negotiation between the UK and the rest of the EU about the exact terms of exit, and this will last for a minimum of two years. The UK has not yet decided when to start the process, although current indications are that it is likely to be some time after October 2016.
What about EU Trade Marks (EUTMs) and Registered Community Designs (RCDs) at the EUIPO?
In the immediate future, we want to reassure you that there will be no abrupt change to the status of EUTMs and RCDs. Eventually, there will be consequences of the leave vote, but these are not yet clear. There is a possibility that the UK may remain within the EUTM and RCD systems even after the UK exits. Or, there may be an opportunity for owners to re-register UK national rights without losing any priority. Either way, it is very unlikely that the transitional arrangements would fail to respect the position of existing EUTM and RCD holders. We will certainly lobby strongly to protect the position of our clients in this regard.
Is there anything I should do now?
We recommend that clients keep on filing EUTMs and RCDs as usual. We will inform you about any transitional provisions. If your EU trade marks are over five years old and only used in the UK, you might consider filing a separate UK application. Please talk to your usual Fieldfisher contact.
What happens to European Patents?
European Patents are granted by the European Patent Office (EPC), which is not governed by an EU institution. Therefore the vote to leave the EU will not affect the UK's membership with the EPC, and European Patents will remain the same.
What about the Unified Patent Court (UPC)?
This is unknown at this stage. The UPC has not yet come into effect as it has not been ratified by the UK and the other relevant member states. Further developments about the ratification process will emerge in due course. It is unclear what will happen to the division of the UPC intended to be hosted in London.
Is unregistered IP including copyright likely to be affected?
We don't think so, but in future we might expect the UK to depart from decisions made by the CJEU.
Fieldfisher remains a European firm. With nine offices spread over France, Belgium, Germany and from 1 July 2016, four new offices in Italy, we will be able to adapt to this new position. As the situation continues to develop, we will monitor the transition and inform you about any updates. As far as we are concerned it is business as usual and we will continue to keep you updated.
If you have any further questions, please get in touch with your usual contact at Fieldfisher.