The European Union Trademark (EUTM) is possibly the most widely used vehicle worldwide to protect trademark rights. As the possibility of a so-called “no deal” Brexit becomes ever more likely, many of our clients wonder what this means for the trademarks that they have protected via EUTM and use in the United Kingdom. In this alert we summarize how the EUTM will be affected in either a deal or no-deal scenario.
First and foremost, your trademark rights remain secure. The United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union while negotiations proceed, and your EUTM will protect your trademark rights in the United Kingdom until it formally exits the EU, which is anticipated to take place on 29 March, 2019.
Moreover, the UK government has confirmed that in the event a deal is reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom, the UK will create equivalent rights to correspond to EUTM registrations, and those rights will be created automatically and without cost to the brand owner
Even in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, the UK government has announced that it will create equivalent rights with “minimal administrative burden” for marks registered in the EU, although it has not explained exactly what that will entail. Further, according to its latest announcement, if an EU application is pending at the date of the United Kingdom’s exit, the applicant will have nine months from the date of exit to apply for the same protections in the UK, while also retaining the priority date of the EU application.
Because of these assurances by the UK government, we are generally not advising our clients to take any additional steps in their trademark filing strategies with respect to the United Kingdom at this time. However, we encourage you to reach out to us with any questions.