You probably know that the UK will be leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019. This means that it is less than 7 months to the official UK exit after which a lot of things will change.
Until now, no one knows what the future of European trademark protection would be in the UK after the country officially leaves the EU. A ‘Preparedness Notice’ was issued in December 2017 by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). In the notice, trademark holders were advised that if there is no agreement to the contrary by the March 30, 2019 deadline, all registered European trademarks will become invalid and ineffective in the UK.
The EU and the UK government are still negotiating, but the Draft Agreement on the pull out of the UK and Northern Ireland from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community was published on March 19, 2018. The primary objective of the agreement is the post-transition period which is from 29 March 2019 to December 31, 2020. From the legal viewpoint outside the EU, the UK will de facto remain a member of the EU during this period.
The Draft Agreement states that trademark owners who their trademarks were registered before the transition period ends shall, without re-examination, be the holder of a comparable registered and enforceable intellectual property right in the UK as provided for by the UK law. This simply means that nothing should change during the transition period, compared to the current situation. Also, the trademarks that have been registered by the EUIPO should remain protected in the UK even after Brexit.
Nevertheless, it’s still unclear what would come out of the Brexit negotiations. Besides, it’s unknown how the European courts and EUIPO will handle marks filed before or during the transition period, as soon as the period expires.
So, to be on a safe side, you should protect your business or brand in advance by registering your trademarks in the UK and the EU. Remember that proving an unregistered right is much more difficult than relying on a registered right.
When you register your trademark in the UK, you will be protected from the inevitable chaos that may occur as a result of the final separation of the UK from the EU.