The implications of Brexit on patents

For the vast majority of patent applicants, there are no changes to European patent law caused by the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) on 31 December 2020.

In particular:

  • The application procedure for European Patents is governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC), which is not an EU treaty. There are already several countries party to the EPC, who are not EU members (including Norway, Switzerland and Turkey);
  • European Patents granted after 31 December 2020 will continue to have effect in the UK; and
  • UK Patent Attorneys will continue to be able to represent clients before the European Patent Office (EPO).

One area where some change will be seen is in relation to Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs), which are typically of relevance to patents for pharmaceutical inventions. The process for granting of SPCs is governed by EU law, meaning that this may be liable to change after Brexit.

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