Current news

March 2019


MPs support Brexit delay with unclear new time limit - second referendum rejected - new chances for UP&UPC with UK

This week there were several votes re Brexit in the UK parliament.

On March 12, 2019 the UK parliament voted 391 "No" to 242 "Yes" (for the second time) against the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU.

On March 13, 2019 the UK parliament voted 321 "No" to 278 "Yes" against a "No-Deal"-BREXIT, (i.e. leaving the EU on March 29, 2019 without any withdrawal agreement).

On March 14, 2019 the UK parliament voted 202 "No" to 412 "Yes" to request to extend the time limit for leaving the EU. However, until when the BREXIT will be delayed is unclear. PM Theresa May combines the question about the length of the delay with conditions.

She plans a third vote of UK's parliament regarding the withdrawal agreement by March 20, 2019 the latest. She also plans to present her request for the extension of time limit (cf. Art. 50 (3) TEU, second half of the sentence) around March 20 to 22, 2019, wherein March 21, 2019 seems to be plausible due to the EU Council Summit scheduled on that day.

Regarding the length of the delay, PM Theresa May plans to request a short extension of time limit until June 30, 2019, provided that UK's parliament approves the withdrawal agreement in the third vote on March 20, 2019. Although the next European elections, which give all adult EU citizens the opportunity to vote for who will represent them in the European Parliament, will already have taken place during May 23 to 26, 2019, the first constitutional meeting of the newly elected European Parliament is scheduled for around the end of June this year. Hence PM Theresa May thinks she can avoid a participation of the UK in the newly elected European Parliament with a short time-limit extension until June 30, 2019.

However, if the third vote about the withdrawal agreement should fail again, there are rumors that PM Theresa May may request a rather long extension of the time limit until December 31, 2020.

Please kindly note that there is no information available that PM Theresa May plans further negotiations with the EU in order to get an enhanced withdrawal agreement before March 20, 2019. Hence, it is difficult to imagine why the UK's parliament should now accept this withdrawal in a third vote after having rejected it during the first and second vote.

Moreover, the request for extension of the time limit under Article 50 TEU needs to be accepted unanimously by the Member States of the EU. However, the reactions of some Member States of the EU in the respective national press imply that an unanimous approval is not a clear thing.

If the Member States of the EU reject the request for the extension of the time limit, irrespective of whether a delay until June 30, 2019 or even until December 31, 2020 was requested, the result would be a "No-Deal"-BREXIT on March 29, 2019.

Despite this, there are no signals in the press that UK thinks about an exit from BREXIT with declaring a withdrawal of the former request to leave the EU (cf. decision of the ECJ in case No. C-621/18 regarding the legally theoretical possibility of ex parte withdrawing the BREXIT request without any statement of grounds).

Rather, on March 14, 2019 the UK parliament voted in a test vote with 334 "No" to 85 "Yes" (plus several abstentions) against a second referendum. Hence, there seems to be no real chance for the citizens of UK to explain with a second referendum how they now think about all this shemozzle.

Since every mess always contains some small glimmer of hope for positive outcomes - at least in the eyes of optimists - we can say that a delay of the BREXIT, even a short delay until June 30, 2019, would provide the German Constitutional Court with a little bit more time to decide about the pending constitutional complaint regarding the UPCA.

If the German Constitutional Court rejects said constitutional complaint as not admissible, and the German Government would hurry up and deposit its ratification document of the UPCA immediately, then we would still have a chance that the UP&UPC-project may start with the UK.

March 2019

European Intellectual Property Seminar Freising 2019

This year our seminar will take place from October 6 to 10, 2019.

More details will follow.

February 2019

Have your say: Public consultation on the EPO's Strategic Plan 2023

The public consultation on the EPO's Strategic Plan runs from January 23 to March 15, 2019 and is focussed on three topics:

1. Evolution of the patent system and future challenges
2. Delivering high quality products and services
3. Social responsibility and transparency

Download the EPO's Strategic Plan contribution template here.

February 2019

EPO study on patents and self-driving vehicles

A study published today, November 6, 2018 by the European Patent Office (EPO) reveals that innovation in self-driving vehicles (SDV) is accelerating fast and finds that patent protection strategies in the area of self-driving vehicle technology more closely resemble those in the information and communication (ICT) sector than those in the traditional automotive industry.

February 2019


Consequences for IP owners - Brexit

The UK is preparing to exit the European Union as of March 29, 2019. The BREXIT will have consequences and may quite significantly affect owners of IP rights, in particular of EU trademarks and EU designs. Therefore, we have been closely monitoring the developments regarding this upcoming UK exit from the European Union and the negotiations conducted throughout the whole period since the decision to exit was made.

Deal or no deal

Until the date of exit the UK will remain part of the EU and the status after the exit depends on whether a deal can be reached between the UK and the EU. In case a deal is reached, there will be a further transitional period in which the status quo is maintained and no necessity will be given to re-apply for trademarks or designs.

In case no deal is reached, the UK will no longer be part of the EU trademark and EU design system. Today, it is quite likely that we need to expect a "no deal situation".

Consequences for trademark and design rights in the case of a Brexit without deal

UK authorities (Government and UKIPO) have always assured that an automatic conversion of EU registrations will take place to an equivalent national UK right. Furthermore, the same authorities also assured that applicants of pending applications will be given the possibility to file a request for conversion to a UK application – most likely within nine months. Considering the above, it seems that there is no urgent necessity to re-file EU trademarks and/or EU designs in UK, even in the "no deal" scenario.

Our advice

A "no-deal" seems likely and no one really knows how the situation will develop. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether the UK Government's past promises will be kept. Therefore, we kindly advise all owners of EU trademarks and EU designs to carefully consider their position in the UK.

It might be worth considering to file a national UK application separately from your pending EU trademark and/or design in order to obtain legal certainty, in particular with respect to issues of use/non-use and enforcement, and to avoid any risk of possible loss of dates or rights.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case of questions. We would be very pleased to assist you, in particular with the filing of trademarks or designs in UK.

December 2018

User consultation on increased flexibility in the timing of the examination process - introduction of a postponed examination system

The European Patent Office invites stakeholders to take part in an online consultation on the possibility of allowing more flexibility in the timing of the examination process by offering means to postpone the examination of European patent applications.

Details can be found here.

May 2018

European Intellectual Property Seminar Japan 2018

Details can be found here.

May 2018

UPC Update - UK ratifies the Convention on the Unified Patent Court (UPC) (commented by Rainer K. Kuhnen)

What seemed uncertain for a long time happened on April 26, 2018: The UK has ratified the proposed Convention on the Unified Patent Court (UPC). By this, Britain has taken an important step to participate in the planned European Unity Patent. In view of the uncertain outlook regarding the terms on which Britain will be leaving in March 2019, this step seems only logical now, as it at least temporarily secures Britain's participation in the new European standard patent system.

Thus, the only obstacle to the entry into force of the new unitary patent system left is the German Federal Constitutional Court, to which all eyes are turning now. As is well known, a constitutional complaint against the ratification of the Convention on the Unified Patent Court is currently pending, which is why Germany's ratification which is mandatory for the new Unitary Patent System to enter in force, is on hold.

This constitutional complaint did not come unexpected, there were and still are doubts in the professional circles as regards the legal basis of the new Unitary Patent System. But given the enormous political pressure from all sides, it seems more than questionable whether the German Federal Constitutional Court actually wants to take the blame for stopping the decades-long effort to establish a "European patent" with a unified jurisdiction literally in the very last minute, just because a single German lawyer has declared constitutional concerns.

In any case, when the German Federal Constitutional Court decides on the constitutional complaint in the middle of this year, we will know more. Until then it remains exciting.

April 2018

European Intellectual Property Seminar Freising 2018

Please find here more details of the program of our seminar from October 7 to 12, 2018 and register online.

April 2018

European Intellectual Property Seminar Japan 2018

These are the dates of our Japanese Seminars this year:

September 10, 2018 in Osaka,
September 11, 2018 in Nagoya and
September 13, 2018 in Tokyo.

More details will follow.

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