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MIND THE UK GAP! – Brexit and UK trade marks

Can I enforce my EUTM (or my registered Community Design) in the United Kingdom after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019? UK traders as well as others who do business in the UK need to be aware that they could face a serious gap in protection if the UK should leave the EU in March 2019 without agreement.

If you are the owner of a EUTM (i.e. EU Trade Mark) filing or registration without being the holder of a separate UK national trade mark or design filing, you are not alone but you should consider how to avoid suffering a post-Brexit gap in protection.

There are literally thousands of businesses who have protected their brands across the EU by means of a single EUTM filing which, upon registration, affords protection throughout the territory of the EU, including of course the UK. A key benefit of the EUTM is that with just one trade mark filing before the EUIPO, your brand is protected across the EU rather than needing to register your brand in each of the 28 EU member states separately. The savings upon registration are substantial (running to thousands of pounds) and there is just one renewal fee payable to the EUIPO at the end of each ten-year protection period.

In fact, the EUTM has been so successful, that many UK traders and businesses have opted for EUTM registration only, not seeking separate UK national trade mark or design registration.

However, with the departure of the UK from the EU approaching in March 2019, many traders face a potential risk of having no brand or design protection in the UK in the event of a so-called no-deal Brexit. This is because, without an agreed departure, EUTM registrations and registered Community Designs (RCDs) will simply cease to have effect in the UK after 29 March 2019. Should that happen, traders who do not have separate national UK registration would not enjoy protection in the UK. So, for example, they would not be able to take action against infringers here in the UK.

It is for this reason, that many traders and businesses are taking action now to protect their brands in the UK. The current timeframe for achieving registration of a trade mark in the UK is about 3-4 months. Assuming no serious registry objection or opposition, it should be possible to obtain registration from the UKIPO if the necessary trade mark application is filed before the end of 2018. Of course, filings made in early 2019 are likely to achieve registration shortly after Brexit Day (29 March 2019). However, to ensure that you do not suffer a gap in protection, the sooner you file for UK registration the better.

Here at the Trademark Hub, we have a wealth of experience in helping the full spectrum of brand owners – from sole traders and SMEs through to multinationals – to search, protect, and enforce their brands and designs both in the UK, in Europe, and around the world. We are always happy to answer your questions, including working with you to register your trade marks in the UK and so ensure you can avoid a Brexit gap.