There is no need to do anything different with your current patent portfolio.
When it comes to payment of annuity or renewal fees in Europe, clients may wish to consider keeping individual countries for longer than previously since any increase in trade barriers between members states, and hence reduction in the free movement of goods in the EU, might suggest that some infringers may select individual members states for their products rather than the EU as a whole.
Hence, it might be beneficial to maintain UK patents longer to protect the UK market post-Brexit.
We recommend you follow your existing filing strategy. This applies whether your strategy is based for example on:
- a national (e.g. GB, DE, US or similar) priority application, followed by PCT and then EPO applications;
- a national priority application (e.g. in the UK) followed by direct (12 month) further national applications (e.g. in Germany, USA, etc); or
- a direct EPO application.
The EPO is not an EU body and will be unaffected by Brexit. As such your normal route for obtaining patents throughout Europe as well as elsewhere in the world should remain the same. This advice regarding prosecution of EPO patent applications is true in respect of obtaining a possible future Unitary Patent also - but see below (and our separate section on the UPP).
Scope of protection
The impact territorially of your patents is unaffected compared to current patent legislation. The principal European patent granting authority remains the EPO and the application and grant processes existing prior to 24 June 2016 are unchanged. We recommend you continue to obtain protection for your patents based on your existing strategies. Hence we advise clients that they at least obtain protection in the usual countries at the grant/national registration phase via the EPO.
However, clients may wish to consider extending patents at grant to cover the UK if they do not presently do so. This is because any increase in trade barriers between members states, and hence reduction in the free movement of goods in the EU, would suggest that some patent infringers may select individual members states for their products rather than the EU as a whole.
Hence, it might be beneficial to obtain (a greater percentage from your application portfolio of) UK patents to protect the UK market post-Brexit.
Interpretation of the legal scope of a patent remains the jurisdiction of national courts and is unaffected at present.