As you are probably aware, the UK elected to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016. Whilst there is little immediate impact on IP rights as the UK's exit from the EU will take at least two years to become effective and the UK is expected to remain as a Member State of the EU until at least the end of 2018, there are important implications for owners of European Community trade marks (EUTMs) which need to be considered now.
Brexit’s impact on existing EUTMs
Existing EUTMs will continue to be valid and will cover all 28 Member States, including the UK, until the UK formally leaves the EU. Once the UK leaves the EU, EUTM rights will not cover the UK.
It is expected that there will be transitional provisions such as an automatic extension of EUTMs to cover the UK, or a re-registration system to allow existing EUTMs to extend protection in the UK after Brexit.
Post Brexit, non-use challenges are likely to be a problem as those EUTMs which are predominately used in the UK will no longer be deemed to have been used in the EU. Also, UK national registrations resulting from transitional procedures which have been predominately used outside of the UK, pre-Brexit, will also become vulnerable to non-use challenge.
Recommendations for existing EUTM holders
Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about your trade mark portfolio. In particular, if your EUTMs are predominantly used in the UK or other individual Member States, please speak with us to discuss the potential impact on your registrations.