BREXIT – What happens to trademarks in the UK?

BREXIT, how Britain votes to remain or exit the European Union (EU), it will affect the way people apply, register and protect trademarks in Europe. If the UK votes “yes” to leave the EU, this will mean that organisations or individuals looking to protect their trademarks or registered designs in the UK will need a separate registration at the UK Intellectual Property Office going forward. The same would apply to patents.

Seriously Trademark Brexit article

Current trademark owners with an EU registration will still have protection rights reserved even if the UK exits.  Assuming that the UK Intellectual Property Office will now have to transfer the EU trademark numbers to a local UK trademark number so that “renewals” will not be affected.  As any EU trademark renewals going forward would exclude the UK if Britain votes to exit.  However, some law firms have predicted that there will be disruptions and consequences if the UK leaves the EU.

UK-based law firm EIP formally announced its stance on the impending vote. It quoted saying that it is supporting the “remain” position, adding a warning that an exit “will be bad for IP rights holders and the UK’s creative and technological industries generally.” Another firm stated “leaving the EU would likely lead to a period of “legal uncertainty” and a potential loss in UK trademark and design rights held in EU registrations.”

The separation of the UK from the EU would mean the rewriting of UK legislation which in its current state is dependent on EU law. What happens to IP rights of UK owners post exit from the EU?  How would renewals work? There will be administrative issues arising from a successful exit vote. UK would no longer have access to EU administration database which administers IP rights for those who have applied for EU protection.   These are some of the questions raised before the vote.

The main negative aspect of the UK leaving the EU from Seriously Trademarks’ perspective is that is that Britain will be left out on the future direction of policy discussions regarding all aspects of IP including trademarks, design marks, patents, plant rights and copyright. It is likely that there will be a delay in the set-up of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) if Britain votes “yes”.

Britain’s Brexit vote scheduled for Thursday, 23 June 2016 is highly anticipated and watched by all around the world.  Whichever way the Brits vote, we’ll be keeping an eye on it to ensure our client’s IP rights remain in tack.

Binh Rey, Principal, Seriously Trademarks®