European Patents

Brexit has no effect on the usual system for European Patents

The European Patent Office (EPO) is not an EU institution, so Brexit will have no effect on the current patent system.  Post-Brexit, patent applications filed by Carpmaels & Ransford at the EPO will still cover the UK (via conventional national validation), and they will be litigated in the UK national courts as usual. The European Patent Convention will continue to be part of UK law, and our European patent attorneys will continue to act in the usual way in all matters before the EPO.

The UK is continuing to push forward with the creation of the new Unitary Patent (UP). Although the UP will be granted by the EPO as an alternative to conventional national validation, it is an EU project based on an EU regulation. Given the UK Government’s announcement, it seems likely that this Unitary Patent Regulation will be incorporated into UK law, which might ensure that no UP rights covering the UK are lost on Brexit (even after the transitional period expected to end by 2020 at the earliest). 

The UK is also continuing to move forward with the creation of a new international patent court (the Unified Patent Court, or UPC), which will likely come into force in the UK well before the Brexit transitional period is complete. The announcement from the UK also suggests existing remedies granted by the UPC, and on-going UPC actions, will be maintained after Brexit. 

So, not only is there no change to the current patent system on Brexit, we also think it likely that UK rights under the new UP/UPC system will be maintained (should it come into force).  For more information, our guide to the UP and UPC can be found here.  Separately, the UK may also negotiate continued involvement in one or both systems after Brexit, perhaps following the approach to remaining in the UPC discussed in our note on the subject here.