Brexit U.K. Trademark Information

The following information has been Published by the U.K. Government regarding the affects of Brexit on U.K. Trademarks. We will keep you updated with the latest information on this subject.

Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the government’s top priority. This has not changed.

However, the government must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario. For 2 years, the government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure that the UK is prepared to leave the EU.

It has always been the case that as we get nearer to that date, preparations for a no deal scenario would have to be accelerated. We must ensure plans are in place should they need to be relied upon.

In the summer, the government published a series of 106 technical notices setting out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a no deal scenario so they can make informed plans and preparations.

This technical notice offers guidance for continued planning in the event of no deal.

Also included is an overarching framing notice explaining the government’s approach to preparing the UK for this outcome in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth and orderly exit.

We are working with the devolved administrations on technical notices and we will continue to do so as plans develop.

Continued protection of registered trade marks and designs in the UK

Before the UK leaves the EU

EU trade marks and registered Community designs are intellectual property rights. They are granted by the EU Intellectual Property Office and are governed by EU regulations, including Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 on the EU trade mark and Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 of 12 December 2001 on Community designs. A business, organisation or individual that owns an EU trade mark or registered Community design (the right holder) has that right protected across all EU member states including the UK.

Right holders can also hold trade marks and registered designs through the international Madrid and Hague systems. These systems allow users to file 1 application, in 1 language, and pay 1 set of fees to protect trade marks and registered designs in up to 113 territories including the EU. Trade marks and registered designs obtained through these systems are also protected in the UK. An estimated combined figure of 1.7 million EU trade marks and registered Community designs are in force (2017 figures), along with over 200,000 international trade mark and design registrations covering the EU.

After the UK leaves the EU if there’s no deal

The government will ensure that the property rights in all existing registered EU trade marks and registered Community designs will continue to be protected and to be enforceable in the UK by providing an equivalent trade mark or design registered in the UK.

Right holders with an existing EU trade mark or registered Community design will have a new UK equivalent right granted that will come into force at the point of the UK’s exit from the EU. The new UK right will be provided with minimal administrative burden. The trade mark or design will then be treated as if it had been applied for and registered under UK law. This means that these trade marks and designs:

  • will be subject to renewal in the UK

  • can form the basis for proceedings before the UK Courts and the Intellectual Property Office’s Tribunal

  • can be assigned and licensed independently from the EU right

After exit, business, organisations and individuals with EU trade mark and Community design applications which are ongoing at the date of exit will be able to refile with the Intellectual Property Office under the same terms for a UK equivalent right, using the normal application process for registered trade marks and registered designs in the UK.

Applying for registered trade mark or registered design protection in the UK can be done via post or online. The online form and instructions for applying by post can be found here for trade marks and here for registered designs.

This means that for a period of 9 months from exit, the government will recognise filing dates and claims to earlier priority and UK seniority recorded on the corresponding EU application. Right holders taking this step will need to meet the cost of refiling the application in accordance with the UK application fee structure.

These same provisions will apply to international registrations designating the EU filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation. This ensures that there is continued protection in the UK after the UK leaves the EU for trade marks and registered designs (filed through the Madrid and Hague Systems, and designating the EU as the area where they apply).

Implications

EU trade mark and registered Community design rights holders (businesses, organisations or individuals) may want to be aware of the following implications which will apply in a ‘no deal’ scenario:

  • existing registered EU trade marks or registered Community designs held will continue to be valid in the remaining EU member states

  • protection of existing registered EU trade marks or registered Community designs in the UK will be through a new, equivalent UK right which will be granted with minimal administrative burden

  • we will notify rights holders that a new UK right has been granted by publishing a notification and guidance on our website

  • any business, organisation or individual that may not want to receive a new comparable UK registered trade mark or design will be able to opt out

  • provision will be made regarding the status of legal disputes involving EU trade marks or registered Community designs which are ongoing before the UK courts and more information will be provided on this before the point at which the UK exits the EU

  • applicants with pending applications for an EU trade mark or a registered Community design will not be notified and after exit will need to consider whether they refile with the Intellectual Property Office to obtain protection in the UK

  • new applications will be eligible to be filed in the UK for UK trade marks and registered designs as they are now, and at the cost specified in the UK fee structure

  • UK applicants, like EU and third country applicants, will continue to be able to apply for protection in the EU through an EU trade mark or registered Community design as they do currently