Brexit... Intellectual property

Will the UK's departure from the EU leave trademark portfolios vulnerable or subject to change? Will UK businesses or EU businesses active in the UK need to take any specific actions?

Here we answer some of your questions about the status of UK and EU trade marks in the post-Brexit world.

If you have any questions about this topic or other Brexit related topics, please get in touch.

I only have an EU trade mark. Will I have to file a new trade mark application in the UK?

If your EU trade mark is registered then, in short, no – the UKIPO will automatically grant an equivalent UK trade mark. However, if your EU mark is still pending as of 01 January 2021 then you will have 9 months to refile an equivalent application and pay the corresponding application fee in the UK. Helpfully, you will not be penalised on timings as the UKIPO will recognise the filing date of your original EU mark. For clients with pending EU marks, we have systems in place to monitor the application’s status and our IP team is happy to advise you on any further steps you may need to take.

How will I maintain my EU trade mark after the end of the Brexit transitional period?

As of 01 January 2021, EU trade marks will no longer be protected in the UK and so you cannot rely on your use of it in the UK to contribute to protection of your EU mark. Therefore, you will need to ensure you have genuine commercial use of your mark elsewhere in the EU. However, if you become embroiled in any contentious matters, then evidence relating to proof of use of your EU mark prior to 01 January 2021 will still be relevant, although the significance of your use will progressively decrease over time. If you haven’t done so already, we strongly recommend you start reviewing the use of your EU marks now to ensure you’re not caught out.

Can Withers still advise on, file and prosecute EU trade mark and applications for EU registered designs?

Absolutely. With the assistance of our IP team in Milan, we are well placed to continue providing you with both UK and EU IP advice, including filing and prosecuting trade mark and design applications (or defending your rights, if needs be). Our teams will be geared up in plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition.

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