Patent lawyers from England and Wales will visit the US this spring for a series of roadshows to drive home the message that their work will be unaffected by Brexit – whatever happens on 29 March.
Julia Florence, the new president at the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), is to join a series of ‘Brexit roadshows’ beginning in April. The roadshows will take place in Washington DC, Boston and San Francisco.
Florence, a former patent lawyer at pharmaceutical giant GSK, said: ‘We know that, following Brexit, the government is keen to negotiate trade deals outside the EU and we need our voice to be heard in relation to the intellectual property aspects of such agreements. Our key message to our US colleagues, for whom we conduct much European work, will be that, because the European Patent Office is not an EU institution, our work for them in Europe can continue unaffected.’
Members of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and His Honour Judge Colin Birss will also attend the events. International firm Bird & Bird is to host a panel session at the event in San Francisco.
Unlike patent law, the UK's trade mark law is governed by European conventions. The government has indicated that any foreign companies and individuals who have a EU-wide trade mark will be able to convert the UK version into a separate mark during any transition period or in the event of a ‘no-deal' Brexit.
Florence added: ‘In these uncertain and challenging times it is important to keep our eyes on the Brexit ball, and its aftermath, and to promote the UK’s IP services to our key markets once we have more clarity. We will also be giving updates on other aspects of IP and will promote the UK as a hub for intellectual property services and dispute resolution.’
Florence said CIPA is already engaged with the Department for International Trade and the UK IPO.
Another aspect of IP law that remains uncertain is the future of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) – an international court open to EU member states in which disputes over unified patents will be resolved.
The UK, one of three countries that must ratify proposals for the court before it can come into force, has said it will remain part of the system whatever the outcome of the Brexit process.
However, a start date for the court cannot be set until Germany, another country from which ratification is mandatory, rules on a constitutional court challenge to the institution.