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Will Brexit affect registered trade marks?
The Intellectual Property Office has published its views on how the UK leaving the EU will affect both UK and EU registered trade marks.
The UK currently has (broadly) three types of trade mark:
- Its own national system known as UK marks which are registered in the UK and only have effect in the UK (subject to the applicant taking advantage of the Madrid System)
- EU trade marks which can be registered with the European Intellectual Property Office and then automatically have effect in any member state including the UK
- Trade marks of another country which is party to a treaty permitting their trade marks to have effect in the UK, such as the Madrid System
Currently, EU trade marks registered anywhere in the EU are valid in any member state. One thing is clear, existing EU trade marks owned or registered by UK businesses will continue to have effect throughout the remaining EU member states after Brexit. When the UK has left the EU, UK businesses will still be able to register an EU trade mark, which will cover all remaining EU member states.
The uncertainty concerns EU trade marks in the UK after Brexit, will they continue to be valid or will the UK leaving the EU mean that it no longer recognises EU trade marks? Again this seems inconceivable since there are so many businesses in the UK with EU trade marks only, having registered these before the referendum was contemplated.
Despite the unattractiveness of UK holders of just EU trade marks losing their protection in the UK, the mechanism for how those trade marks will continue to have an effect is not clear and remains to be negotiated.
The practical effect of this uncertainty means that trade mark owners wanting to protect their brand in the UK should make sure they have both a UK and EU trade mark.
For further information on Intellectual Property, Internet Law and E-commerce contact our specialist team on 01392 207020 or email: email@example.com