Welcome confirmation on the UK’s continuing role in the EPC


The UK government has confirmed that the UK’s participation in the European Patent Convention (EPC) will not be altered by any agreement reached in ongoing trade negotiations. This is a welcome confirmation that European patents will not be affected in future.

The EPC is a non-EU international treaty, so is separate from the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. However, with ongoing negotiations between the EU and Britain, it has been an important aim to ensure that the UK government’s negotiators fully understand the importance of protecting the UK’s existing role in the EPC (and other international IP obligations). 

A report was published earlier in the summer (jointly by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the IP Federation) which assessed the impact that the EPC has on the UK economy and innovation (you can read the full report here). The conclusion in that report was that the UK’s continuing role in the EPC is critical – not only for UK businesses but also for US businesses working with UK patent attorneys.

It has now been confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Europe Advisor and Chief Negotiator that the UK government “would ensure that the UK’s international trade agreements were consistent with the UK’s existing international obligations, including the EPC, and that there was no intention of leaving it”. This is positive reassurance that the UK’s position in the EPC is not up for debate as free trade agreement negotiations continue.

Please refer to our Brexit FAQs for further information. If you have any questions about the impact that ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU will have on your IP, please contact us.