United Kingdom: Information Regarding the Status of the UK’s Membership in the European Patent Organisation following the withdrawal from the European Union
In view of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, the following information has been issued by the European Patent Office (EPO) regarding the UK’s membership in the European Patent Organisation, as well as the status of UK professional representatives and legal practitioners before the EPO.
The UK’s membership of the European Patent Organisation
The UK's withdrawal from the EU has no impact on its status within the European Patent Organisation, an international organization independent from the EU, with 38 contracting states established on the basis of the European Patent Convention (EPC). Equally, the procedures under the EPC and the PCT remain unaffected. Consequently, the EP designation in the request form (Form PCT/RO/101) continues to include GB. Furthermore, applicants who are nationals and/or residents of the UK continue to be entitled to file international applications with the EPO as receiving Office (in addition to the UK Intellectual Property Office1 and the International Bureau).
Status of UK professional representatives and legal practitioners
The principles governing representation before the EPO 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 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, that is, Germany or the Netherlands. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU also has no implications on 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, may represent parties in proceedings before the EPO (Article 134(8) EPC).
Furthermore, UK professional representatives remain entitled, pursuant to Article 134(6) EPC, to establish a place of business in any contracting state of the EPC in which proceedings under the EPC may be conducted, but should bear in mind 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.
For further information, please refer to the Notice from the European Patent Office dated 29 January 2020, to be published in the February issue of the Official Journal of the EPO. An advance publication of the notice is available at: