Impact of Brexit Vote on Design Protection in the EU


Even if Britain follows the results of the recent referendum and exits the EU, the IP effects are not likely to be dire. It has already been noted, for example, that there has been no suggestion that the UK will exit the EPC, the treaty that establishes the European Patent Office and relates to utility patent protection. The EU, on the other hand, administers the protection of designs as Registered Community Designs (RDCs). During the likely multi-year transition, the UK will no doubt choose to pass legislation to validate existing RDCs for enforcement in the UK. And the UK Intellectual Patent Office will continue, as it always has, to offer design protection in the UK via a national design patent.

The most substantive effect on design protection, long term, is that British attorneys will not be able to directly file EU RDC applications but will require the assistance of an attorney licensed in an EU country. We have already seen some British firms announcing, even in the 24 hours following the vote, plans to set up a satellite office in cities such as Munich. As our European attorneys are licensed in Germany, they will continue to be able to file and prosecute RDC applications and there will be no direct effect on the range of our services.

Of course, other IP effects are expected long term if the Brexit is completed. For example, the UK is not now expected to become a subject of the long-awaited Unified Patent Court, which will limit the territorial reach of such an enforcement option. Stay tuned for additional updates on the Fish Patent Blog.