Notice from the European Patent Office dated 29 January 2020 concerning the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020
In view of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, users' attention is drawn to the following:
I. Status of the UK
The European Patent Organisation is an international organisation established on the basis of the European Patent Convention (EPC). It is independent of the EU and currently has 38 member states, of which 28 are also members of the EU (incl. the UK) and 10 are not. The UK's withdrawal from the EU will consequently have no impact on its status within the European Patent Organisation.
The EPC establishes the procedure for the granting of European patents by the European Patent Office (EPO) for all its 38 contracting states. Hence, the procedure for obtaining a European patent before the EPO will not be affected by the UK's withdrawal from the EU. This applies equally to any opposition and appeal proceedings, as well as to any limitation and revocation proceedings. Furthermore, UK citizens and natural persons domiciled in the UK, as well as legal persons based in the UK (as governed by its national law) will still be able to file European patent applications. Under the EPC, anyone can file a patent application with the EPO, irrespective of nationality, residence or place of business.[ 1 ]
The UK's status as a contracting state to the Agreement on the application of Article 65 of the Convention on the Grant of European Patents (London Agreement)[ 2 ] will likewise remain unaffected by its withdrawal from the EU. Consequently, patent holders will remain exempt from filing any translations of European patents granted for the UK, after its withdrawal from the EU.[ 3 ]
II. Status of UK professional representatives and legal practitioners
The principles governing representation before the EPO will also remain unaffected by the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
In particular, UK European patent attorneys who have been entered on the list of professional representatives before the EPO in accordance with Article 134(2) EPC will remain fully entitled to represent their clients in proceedings before the EPO, including oral proceedings, without the need for a work permit in either of the states in which proceedings established by the EPC may be conducted, i.e. Germany or the Netherlands. The UK's withdrawal will also have no implications for any future requests for entry of UK candidates on this list of professional representatives before the EPO.
Similarly, legal practitioners qualified and having their place of business in the UK who are entitled to act as professional representatives in patent matters there, such as barristers and solicitors, will still be able to represent parties in proceedings before the EPO (Article 134(8) EPC).
Finally, UK professional representatives will remain entitled pursuant to Article 134(6) EPC to establish a place of business in any contracting state to the EPC in which proceedings under the EPC may be conducted. They should bear in mind, however, that any regulations governing entry to and residence in the territory of a given EU member state, such as regulations on visa requirements, will apply.
[ 2 ] OJ EPO 2001, 550.
[ 3 ] epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/london-agreement.html.