What is “Brexit”?
“Brexit” is a media nickname for a referendum vote that took place in the UK on the 24th June 2016. It decided that the UK should leave the EU. It took place because the Conservative party leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, was worried that more populist politicians on the right of his party might take away the votes from his party. He therefore promised a referendum to settle the question if he won last year's General Election. He won the election and set in process the referendum. He was very sure that he would win it because he thought that leaving the EU would be damaging to the UK economy and that the majority of the UK population would see the issue in the same way that he did.
He was surprised when they did not and voted to exit the EU, and thus has had to resign as a result.
What will happen next?
It is not clear by any means.
The only legal certainty in place is that the process of negotiating an exit from the EU should be done by invoking Art. 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the process should take maximum 2 years. Those who campaigned to leave the EU are presently not willing to invoke Art 50 of the Treaty yet.
Within this context, most of the major UK political parties (who supported to remain in the EU), are at present in major upheaval and with no clear direction. On top of this, Scotland's devolved government is planning to treat with the EU separately because Scotland voted mainly to stay within the EU. It is thus a mess that will take time to resolve!
It must be further noted that many other EU countries, such as France and Italy, are worried that the example of the UK referendum may convince their own populations that leaving the EU may settle their own domestic issues. As such, the EU has 2 differing and contradicting missions for itself: make it as difficult for the UK as possible to show their own domestic populace the negative consequences of leaving the EU and convincing the UK to leave the EU as quickly as possible (or possibly arranging for t to remain in some other form) to repair the damage that the referendum's uncertainty has placed on the EU single market.
What does this mean for European IP?
It is important to note that the European Patent Office is not part of the EU and this decision should not affect in any way how a UK firm operates with the EPO (as for example Switzerland and other member countries of the EPO also do).
For Trademarks and Designs, the EU office will operate as normal for the period that negotiations are proceeding. This means that it can take at least 2 years before we see the UK leave such systems of centralized IP.
We will have to wait and see how this referendum will affect the ratification of the Unified European Patent Court and the Unified EU-wide Patent set up by the EU in the last few years. For example, the ratification process may proceed where the UK's position as main country necessary for ratification and location of the centralized court system may move to a newly arrived country such as Italy (because it is the next largest country within the unified system after France and Germany).
What does this mean for serives provided by Jinn IP?
At the moment, the services provided by Jinn IP are not affected by the decision of the UK to leave the EU today and in the near future even though Jinn IP is currently located in the UK.
We will have to wait and see how the UK arranges its position with respect to the rest of the EU, but it is also worth noting that Jinn IP's patent attorney (Stefano John) is also an Italian national who is currently applying to become an Italian Patent Attorney (as well as being an associate member of UK CIPA). As such he will be able to take advantage of both UK and EU services whatever occurs as a result of the referendum. For example, he will therefore still be able to qualify for representation rights before the Unified European Patent Court should that go ahead without participation of the UK.
In case you have any queries or worries as a result of today's events, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will reply as soon as possible.