IP and Brexit

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The UK’s 47-year membership of the European project (spanning the EEC and the EU) formally comes to an end as of 23.00 GMT today (31st January 2020).

 

What does Brexit mean for Patents?

 

The UK’s exit from the EU will have no effect on the UK’s participation in the current European patent system, as the European Patent Office (EPO) is established under the European Patent Convention (which is an international treaty that is independent of the EU).  The EPO has issued a formal notice to this effect. It is therefore “business as normal” for patents. The rights of British EP patent attorneys to act before the EPO are unaffected.

 

That said, Brexit may prevent implementation of the proposed Unitary Patent System that was expected to come into force in the near future (barring various outstanding legal challenges).  If the unitary patent system were ever to be implemented, it is presently unclear whether the UK would be able to participate in that system.

 

What does Brexit mean for Trademarks and Registered Designs?

 

There will be a transition period beginning 1st February 2020 and ending on 31st December 2020, during which time the UK will continue to abide by EU law.  As such, the UK will remain part of the EU trade mark (EUTM) system and EU registered community design (RCD) system throughout the transition period. EU trademarks and Registered Community Designs (RCDs) will continue to extend to the UK during this time.

 

Businesses, organisations or individuals that have applications for an EUTM or RCD that are pending at the end of the transition period will have a period of nine months from the end of the transition period to apply in the UK for the same protections. We will keep everyone regularly informed as this period draws to a close.

 

Upon expiry of the transition period, comparable UK rights for RCDs and EUTMs (that are already in force at that time) will be automatically created by the UK Intellectual Property Office.

 

The above arrangements set out the default positions that would be adopted by the UKIPO at the expiry of the transition period.  Of course, it is possible that alternative arrangements may be agreed between the UK and the EU during the transition period. If alternative arrangements are agreed, we will keep everyone updated.

 

Irrespective of what happens in the EU/UK negotiations, Brexit will not result in the loss of any existing trademark and design rights.

 

And what about Unregistered Designs?

 

The UK will remain part of the EU unregistered community design system throughout the transition period. This means that two- and three-dimensional designs (including, for example, clothing designs and patterns) disclosed in the UK or an EU Member State can be automatically protected in both territories as unregistered Community Designs. This right provides three years of protection from copying.

 

Unregistered community designs arising before the end of the transition period will continue to be protected in the UK for the remainder of their three-year term.

 

Designs disclosed in the UK after the end of the transition period may be protected in the UK via a supplementary unregistered design, which will protect two- and three-dimensional designs for three years.

 

Again, this would be the default position in the UK at the expiry of the transition period.

 

How can Valet Patent Services help?

 

As detailed above, there will be no change to patent practice caused by Brexit. There will also be no changes to any trademark or design practice until around the end of 2020.  What happens thereafter is largely dependent upon the EU/UK negotiations.

 

Valet Patent Services has offices and attorneys in both the UK and EU.  As such, we are well placed to be able to continue providing our clients with the same level of IP protection in Europe as we do now.

 

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Utility Model protection in Germany

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Differences between utility model and regular patents

Utility models are unexamined IP rights. During the registration procedure, there is no examination as to novelty, inventive step und industrial application. For this reason, utility model protection can be obtained more easily, faster and at lower cost than regular patent protection.

Another important difference between the two IP rights is the term of protection. A patent can be kept in force for up to 20 years, whereas a utility model protection can last for up to ten years.

Utility models are extremely attractive for novel consumer products that require protection in Europe, but which, because of product lifecycle and other factors, do not justify the slower and more expensive route to protection available for regular patents. A utility model can be drafted, filed and registers within a few months and can be far lower cost than regular patents.

Utility models can be directed to protect the function or workings of a product and thus can offer greater protection than a corresponding design patent for the product. Of course, a combined approach may be optimal in which design and utility model protection is sought.

Application procedure

You will receive an acknowledgement containing the date of filing as well as the file number. After the application fee has been received, the Utility Model Unit of the German patent office (DPMA) examines whether the application documents comply with the Utility Model Ordinance (Gebrauchsmusterverordnung). Formal examination includes completeness of the application and compliance with the formal requirements. Substantive examination is carried out as to whether the invention can be protected by a utility model in principle.

If deficiencies are found, this may lead to different legal consequences as outlined below. However, you can be sure that a utility model drafted and filed by Valet Patent Services would meet all stipulated requirements and we would expect registration without intermediate notices of deficiency.

  • If fundamental requirements are not met, registration of the utility model is not possible.

For example, the invention must be already disclosed in the documents submitted at the filing date in a comprehensive manner. It is not possible to add additional features in the further procedure. If the application is not withdrawn following a corresponding deficiency letter, the application will be refused by decision. A new application might then be an option.

  • Formal deficiencies can usually be remedied. The Utility Model Unit will inform us about the deficiencies and how to remedy them.

If there are no deficiencies or if they have been remedied, the utility model will be entered into the official Register (DPMAregister). The IP right becomes effective upon registration of the utility model allowing you to exploit your rights.
The utility model specification will be published approximately four weeks after registration and can then be searched in the DPMA databases.

Costs and timelines

An application fee of 40 euros for a utility model application must be paid to the German patent office within three months from filing the application. Valet Patent Services offers a low fixed fee for filing German utility model applications. The application fee is as low as 30 euros for e-filing. Maintenance fees are due after three, six and eight years. If the respective maintenance fee is not paid at all, not paid in due time or not paid in full, the utility model will lapse. Information about fees and fee payment are available here.

The registration procedure is completed, on average, within three to four months.

Applying for a utility model in Germany

Valet Patent Services offers a low cost, fixed fee arrangement for drafting your utility model patent application. We would expect the draft and subsequent drafting of your utility model application to take less than two weeks and for the filing and registration of your utility model to be achieved within a few months.

As with a regular patent application, a German utility model application must include a description of the invention and claims setting out the desired scope of protection. Drawings are required if the claims or the description refer to the drawings.

Utility Model Protection Outside Germany

In contrast to the regular patent system, there is no European filing route. Neither do all countries offer utility model protection. For example, there is no utility model in Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Spain offer short term patents or utility models having lower costs and easier examination requirements.

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EP VALIDATIONS

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Going through the validation process for a European Patent in different countries simultaneously can be a complex, time consuming and expensive procedure. Valet Patent Services is your low-cost, single point-of-contact partner that handles the entire procedure with simple workflows, while you can focus on your own business.

European Patent Validation – What, When and How?

EP Validation is the process of converting a single granted European Patent into a national patent in one or more of the 42 European Patent Organization member, extension and validation states.

The validation process typically involves high quality, technically-qualified translation of all or part of the patent, the payment of fees and the filing of documents within a certain time frame – usually three months from the European Grant Date.

The actual requirements vary between countries. Generally, there is a requirement to translate some or all of the European patent specification, to pay fees at the local patent office, and to appoint a local representative.  Valet Patent Services, LLP offers a central service for completing all of these acts in each of your designated countries.

EP Validation Deadline

The deadline for validation in most countries is three months from the European Grant date.

What makes us different?

We only use technically qualified, mother tongue translators who are often patent attorneys in the local jurisdiction.  We have arranged special fees with our local partners in each country and can pass on significant discounts to you.  We believe that Valet Patent Services, LLP is the lowest cost provider of European patent validation services.  We have tried and tested procedures that are pending ISO certification to guarantee that all deadlines and formal requirements are satisfied.  We complete thousands of European patent validations each year and you can rely on the experience we have gained to complete your validations projects on-time and without fuss.

We offer you:

  • An easy validation management service with a single point of contact,
  • We’ll take care of the rest, keeping you informed at every stage, while you retain control.
  • Competitive costs without any hidden expenses.
  • Certified patent translators for a state of art translations.
  • An efficient follow up management that provides renewals, annual payments and other IP related services.
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