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h u t c h i n s o n  i p UK & EUROPEAN PATENT & DESIGN ATTORNEYS
About Services Information Contact


On 23 June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU) by a small majority (51.9% - 48.1%).  So, what does this mean for the UK from an IP perspective?

The United Kingdom’s status in the EU:

The UK is still a member of the EU, and will remain so, until such time as its exit from the EU has been negotiated.  Therefore, until such time as the UK actually leaves the EU, everything should carry on as it did before 23 June 2016.  The exit of the UK from the EU is governed by Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union (Art 50 TEU).  More information about this can be found here:

European patents:

The European Patent Organisation is an extra-governmental organisation that is separate from the EU.  As such, the UK’s membership of the European Patent Organisation is not dependent on its continued membership of the EU.  Switzerland, for example, is an EPC contracting state, but is not a member of the EU.  The UK may eventually end up in the same, or a similar, position to other non-EU, EPC members, such as Switzerland, where patents granted by the EPO can nevertheless be validated as national patents in those countries.

The Unitary Patent, however, is an EU initiative.  So, if the UK leaves the EU, then the Unitary Patent may not be effective in the UK.  However, whether or not Unitary Patents will ultimately be effective in the UK, and whether the UK will continue to be involved in the European Patents Court, will no doubt be the subject of negotiations under Art 50 TEU.

Registered Community Designs:

The Registered Community Design system is intrinsically linked to EU membership.  If the UK eventually leaves the EU, then Registered Community Designs may no longer be effective in the UK.  However, the possibility of converting new or existing Registered Community Designs into UK Registered Designs, or the enforceability of Registered Community Designs in the UK notwithstanding the UK’s exit from the UK, will also no doubt be the subject of negotiations under Art 50 TEU.


We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and we will post further updates as soon as more information is known.  For more information, please contact us.