As widely reported, voters in the United Kingdom approved a referendum on June 23, 2016 to exit the European Union. This action will eventually have significant consequences for the protections afforded by European Trade Marks and Registered Community Designs in the United Kingdom. However, these changes will not take place immediately, and European Trade Marks and Registered Community Designs will remain in force in the United Kingdom until such time as the exit process is formally concluded.
A European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) and Registered Community Design (RCD) provide protection in all current members of the European Union. Citizenship or domicile in the European Union is not required for ownership. In due course after the formal exit from the European Union, neither the EUTM nor the RCD will have legal effect in the United Kingdom. It is uncertain how long the exit process will take, as there is no precedent for a country leaving the European Union. The European Union article governing this subject mandates that a country complete the exit within two years, but some experts believe that negotiations and resulting implementation could extend several additional years.
Before the formal exist is complete, it is anticipated that the United Kingdom will implement legislation to convert the rights in the EUTM and RCD to a national United Kingdom registration, including keeping the priority filing date. In the meantime, the EUTM and RCD will remain in force. For the present time, we believe the EUTM and RCD are still the most cost effective means for obtaining protection throughout Europe. However, intellectual property owners also have the option of directly filing a United Kingdom national application. Working in partnership with our associate law firms, we can continue to assist clients in obtaining the most effective protection in the United Kingdom and throughout the rest of Europe.