The Impact of Brexit on EU Trade Marks
What will be the fate of EU trade marks after the United Kingdom departs from the European Union?
The UK is set to leave the EU on the 29 March 2019. This means that any intellectual property (IP) registered in the EU, will no longer have any legal effect in the UK after the departure date. Although there has been discussion of a potential transitional agreement put in place to transfer any IP rights protected in the EU upon the UK’s withdrawal, there is yet to be a definitive outcome on this issue.
Considering this, it is important to consider how EU registered trademarks and other IP interests will be treated in the UK after Brexit. Potentially, if no agreement has been finalised before the 29 March 2019, then all EU registered IP and the associated rights and interests will be unenforceable in the UK. In a broader context, it also means that all EU laws will no longer have effect in the UK.
How will this impact current owners of EU trade marks?
The impact of Brexit will be significant for current and pending EU trade marks. This is because any trade marks registered under the EU system will no longer be protected in the UK. Consequently, owners of EU trade marks will have no direct protection against trade mark infringement, and more seriously, may be at risk of others registering their trade mark in the UK. While the former situation may be an extreme, trade mark owners should be prudent and take all necessary steps to protect their brand identity in the UK following Brexit. Indeed, it would be diligent to start planning ahead, so that trade mark owners are prepared to act as soon as possible. On a positive note, Brexit will not impact on the rights of EU protected trade marks in any of the other 27 EU member states.
The road ahead post-Brexit
Despite the possibility of a transitional agreement that would automatically protect the rights of EU IP holders as they operate in the UK, this is not a certainty. At the very least, EU trade mark holders may be given a priority or a grace period to register their trade marks with the UK trade mark office. However, with the uncertainty of Brexit and the implicit complexities associated with a mass-scale transfer, trade mark owners should take a proactive approach in securing their IP interests in the UK.
Take away points from this article:
- The UK will be departing from the EU on the 29 March 2019.
- After this date, trade marks registered in the EU may no longer be protected in the UK.
- Save for the creation of a transitional agreement, trade mark owners that want to protect their IP interests in the UK should take proactive steps with the UK trade mark office.
- Always plan ahead to protect your valuable IP assets.
Sam Gilbert, IP and Technology Consultant, B.A., LL.B University of Technology, Sydney
For any more information on how to protect your brand, or to make an inquiry about a trade mark, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the team at W3IP Law on 1300 776 614 or 0451 951 528.
Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.