The reason patents will not be affected very much by Brexit is that the European Patent Office is not an EU institution. It refers to geographical Europe. In contrast, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (which handles trade marks and designs) is official an agency of the European Union. It refers to political Europe.
Nicolas Vigneron, EU IPO Programme Manager (Service Quality Programme) was one of our guests at the AIPEX meeting in Lyon earlier this month (AIPEX is a European Law Firm that Wynne-Jones IP part owns). During the meeting, he gave us a presentation, and we noticed that all of his slides had the word “Union” removed from the name “European Union”.
After the use of some clever persuasion techniques (we gave him dinner and wine), Nicolas explained why.
The role of the EU IPO in the Brexit process is to provide the European Commission with information and options as far as intellectual property is concerned. It is for the European Commission to decide on the EU’s policy accordingly. It seems one option put forward by the EU IPO is that it becomes the E IPO, and handles trade marks and designs throughout geographical Europe and not only just the European Union. To the EU IPO, this is quite a sensible suggestion. It already recognises attorneys from the European Economic Area (EEA) and not merely the EU. It already operates non-EU register databases (TM View and Design View). And it already operates internationally to promote worldwide convergence in the field of intellectual property.
It is (just about) conceivable that the EU Trade Mark and Design Regulations could become European Trade Mark and Design Regulations instead. The UK, along with EEA countries like Norway and Switzerland, might then continue to have access to them, in return for paying membership fees.
If you take the Union out of the EU IPO, maybe you get to keep the Union Jack after all………….
Wynne-Jones IP will keep on top of this story in the month’s ahead and let you know as soon as we hear anything more.