The upcoming European Union (EU) referendum is, as expected, dominating the news. The financial markets have been reacted badly to a strong possibility of a British exit, or Brexit, from the EU. There are a lot of questions that have been raised over various matters relating to this ‘Brexit’. What will happen to trade, travel and in our specific case trade marks if Britain decides to leave the EU.
As many others have stated, there is great uncertainty in regards to what will happen post Brexit. We are also not clear of the exact changes that will occur, but we can speculate like all others have or are doing so.
One thing is for certain, a vote for Brexit will have significant implications for trade marks. In this post, we’ll try to answer the questions which you might have albeit speculatively.
Would EU trade marks still apply to the UK?
In simple words, no.
However, post Brexit, there will a long period of negotiation in which the British government would negotiate all matters with the EU. Either party might provide new legislations to continue the protection of existing EU trade marks in the UK, but that all depends on the negotiations that will be undertaken. If there are no new legislations provided, then all companies trading in the UK would be required to file a national application. That is if they only had a EU trade mark.
It is understood that the provisions and regulations provided by the EU Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will no longer be in effect so any new EU trade mark applications will not cover UK.
Can UK trade mark attorneys represent clients before the EU IPO?
Again, that would be a no.
The Institute of Trade Mark Attorney (ITMA) has suggested that a large amount the EU trade mark and design registration work will be moved to mainland Europe from the UK. The following effects have been listed:
- UK-based trade mark practitioners would be unlikely to file EU Trade Marks/EU designs because they would be unable to represent clients before the EU Intellectual Property Office, unless the UK was to join the European Economic Area.
- Over time UK trade mark and design law would diverge from EU law
A change in the law and removal of EU trade mark courts from the UK would most likely be the end of EU IPO work for UK based trade mark law firms and attorneys.
Will there be any changes to the cost?
Apart from the increase in costs of filing a UK and an EU trade mark separately, the costs ought to remain the same for the UK and EU trade mark.
The same rules would apply to design registration in the EU.
As stated above, we are speculating the changes that might occur as a result of a Brexit. There is a great deal of uncertainty, which is making everyone jittery. ITMA has stated that this will have a negative effect on trade mark attorneys in the UK and the process would become more complex. However, there might be an increase in UK trade mark filings post a brexit, which could help ease the long term negative impact.