Although it may be obvious to those in the know, the UK’s exit from the EU will not affect the current European patent system, which is governed by the European Patent Convention rather than the EU. As such, UK individuals and businesses will continue to be able to apply to the European Patent Office for patent protection and European patents will continue to apply to the UK. Existing European patents that have been pursued in the UK will also be unaffected. Moreover, Murgitroyd’s European patent attorneys, will moreover continue to be able to represent applicants before the EPO.
You may ask what effect Brexit might have on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which as you may know is intended to be a court having exclusive competence in respect of European patents and European patents with unitary effect. In this respect, the UK announced on 21 July 2020 its official withdrawal from the UPC Agreement. The likely effect of this withdrawal is that the UPC agreement in its present form will not come into effect. That said, once the UK leaves the transitional arrangement with the EU at the end of 2020, the agreement can in principle come into effect. However, as a central division of the court was to be in London, a new agreement seems likely if the EU member states wish to continue with the project.
As regards the granting of Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) for certain patents relating to medicinal or plant protection products, we understand also that the UK will maintain the current SPC legal framework in the UK when we leave the EU. As such, despite Brexit, it is business as usual in relation to patents in Europe.
For more information, please contact Steven Suèr:
T: +44 (0) 1224 706 616