At Boult Wade Tennant it is business as normal, for now. The result of the referendum, held on 23 June 2016, is a vote to leave the European Union (EU). Regardless of this outcome, Boult Wade Tennant is well positioned to continue to represent our clients in the UK, EU and rest of the world.
The exit process is predicted to be lengthy. Parliament will now consider when and how to proceed. The relevant European Treaty envisages a two year minimum period before the UK might leave the EU. However in practice it is anticipated that negotiations with the EU will take considerably longer than that, and it is likely to be several years before an agreement can be reached. Until then, the UK will continue to remain a part of the EU.
What is the current situation?
- Current European patent work will be entirely unaffected
The current European patent system is independent of membership of the EU. Therefore both the UK and the current European patent system is wholly unaffected by the vote to leave the European Union (EU). It is therefore business as usual. UK (European qualified) patent attorneys will remain able to file and prosecute European patent applications for all UK and overseas clients, whether the UK is inside or outside of the EU. Similarly, there will be no change to the rights of existing European patent applications or patents already obtained through the European Patent Office.
- PCT patent work will also be unaffected
The UK’s membership of WIPO is independent of membership of the EU. UK patent attorneys will therefore still be able to file and prosecute PCT patent applications for UK and overseas clients. Rights obtained through PCT patent applications will also be unaffected.
- Trade mark rights may be affected in the future
Community Trade Marks and designs automatically cover all member countries of the EU. Thus, additional national legislation will be necessary if the protection afforded by such unitary rights is to continue to extend to the UK following our eventual departure from the EU. One possible solution might be the retention of a unitary registration system for the EU member states, but with an option to convert the UK part into a UK national right retaining the original application date of the EU registration.
Boult Wade Tennant has one of the largest and longest established trade mark and design teams in the UK. We have had contingency plans in place, in the event of a referendum decision to leave the EU, for some time. We shall now move forward with these plans and further announcements will follow over the coming weeks and months. For now, though, we wish to reassure all of our clients: our future strategy will ensure that Boult Wade Tennant remains at the heart of Europe, with the continued ability to advise and secure rights in both EU and non EU countries.
The clear message to our clients is that it is business as usual, for now. Patent filing and prosecution work will remain entirely unaffected, whether we are inside or outside of the EU.
In respect of Community Trade Marks and designs, Boult Wade Tennant has considered the constitutional changes and the ‘what if’ questions in the lead-up to the referendum. As one of the largest UK IP attorney firms, we believe that we are well positioned to help shape and influence the implementation of any new legislation.
Boult Wade Tennant has, over the past 120 years of our existence, seen the advent of dozens of new national, regional and international patent and trade mark treaties. We are certain that we shall be well placed to guide our clients through the new laws and practices that will be forthcoming transitional period. Any changes to Trade Mark law and practice will be phased in over a number of years and we shall ensure that we continue to provide the proactive strategic advice that our clients expect from us, over the coming months and years.
We hope that this Briefing Note will have addressed any immediate concerns that you might have. Nevertheless, should you have any specific concerns following the result to Brexit, please do contact us. Our team of attorneys can assist you.