Impact of Brexit on your Intellectual Property Rights.
Whilst the final details of the impact of the United Kingdom (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU) on intellectual property holders won’t be known for some time, it won’t be a simple process.
There will be a two-year transition period where the UK negotiates the exit, and intellectual property related laws that involve patents, copyrights and trademarks are expected to remain largely unchanged during the two year transitional period.
But once the UK completely breaks away from the EU then businesses with intellectual property rights protected by their EU designation will face the prospect of them being no longer being valid in the UK.
EU IP rights are valid only in the member states of the EU, which will ultimately no longer include the UK.
During the transition, it’s likely measures will be put in place for those rights holders to convert a part of their European Trade Mark to a national UK trademark, where we would be hopeful that they can keep earlier filing dates in the UK based on existing EU marks.
However, it is likely to be some time before it is known the precise exit model the UK will follow, and some time before we know whether a conversion of a part of an EU trademark to a national UK trademark, retaining original priority dates, will be possible.
If you’re engaged in business in the UK, the Brexit impact on your intellectual property rights, particularly trademark rights may have huge implications.
To protect their trademark rights, Australian businesses operating globally may have applied for protection either with the European Trade Mark Office or based on the Madrid Protocol.
The EU is a member of the Madrid Protocol, which permits holders of the trademark within any of the 97member states to get international trademark protection via designation to other member countries.
There will be many trademark registrations lodged in Europe with the belief that protection extends across the UK, which is true at this moment.
The impact of Brexit means there is a real possibility that businesses that have had trademark protection in the UK via their EU designation may no longer have no trademark protection in the UK once the exit is complete.
Brexit may impact your intellectual property rights if:
- You have UK expansion plans using your European Union Trademark (EUTM)
- You have agreements or licenses that cover the EU – they may need to be amended to reference the UK.
- You have an EU Trademark but only use your trademark in the UK. As it stands, all countries allow for the removal of a trademark if it is not used in the jurisdiction of registration for a period of time. Once UK exits and is no longer covered by an EU registration, then the EU registration may be vulnerable to removal as use then of the trademark in UK will not constitute use of the mark in the EU.
It is too early to ascertain the full impact of Brexit on intellectual property rights.
But rather than adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach, Quick Off The Mark® suggests it may be wise for EU holders to consider filing separate applications to the UK if these answers are not known soon.
This will ensure you have maximum protection in the future by safeguarding any loss or gap in intellectual property rights. If appropriate transitional provisions are put in place, allowing EU rights holders to convert a part of their EU rights to national UK trade marks, with retention of original filing dates then the worse that happens is rights holders have two registrations that cover the UK market, which, is far better than no rights at all.
Got questions about the possible impact of Brexit on your intellectual property rights?
The advice provided in this blog is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your business objectives, legal situation or needs. Before acting on this advice you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, legal situation and needs.