The Impact of Brexit on UK Trademark Law

15 February 2021

December 31st, 2020 marked the end of the transition period between the EU and the UK.

From 11pm on Thursday 31st December 2020 onwards, the EU Treaties and general principles of EU law will cease to apply in and in relation to the UK. Despite numerous hurdles along the way the UK Government and the EU Parliament agreed a post Brexit trade deal which was brought into law in the UK having been backed by the Commons by 521 to 73 votes after Parliament was recalled.

From the 1st January 2021, EU Trademarks will now no longer protect trademarks in the UK – however, the IPO is in the process of creating a comparable UK trademark for all right holders with an existing EU trademark.

Fortunately, the UK government has provided some guidance on Brexit’s impact on EU registered trademarks on their website, and it seems the IPO

is dedicated to ensuring the switch from EU protection and UK protection for trademarks is seamless.

To help prepare your business for the coming change, we have compiled answers to key questions you may have with regard to the legal landscape in a post-Brexit world and its impact on your business’ IP rights.

Should you need any further clarification, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our specialist lawyers.

What happens to EU Trademarks registered before 1 January 2021?

To facilitate the transition between EU and UK law, all EU trademarks registered before this date will be automatically cloned into equivalent UK registrations, allowing trademark holders to retain the same filing and registration details as well as priority and seniority claims. This is also the case for international trademarks which designate the EU, but keep in mind that your cloned UK mark for international trademarks will not be a designation, so will require separate management.

From January 1st, 2021, proprietors will be able to opt out of UK protection should they wish to do so. Your key consideration here will be whether a cloned UK trademark is of use to you moving forward – for example, if your trade activities are not in the UK, or if the existence of a UK trademark may be in breach of an agreement.

If you intend to keep the cloned trademark past the transition period, remember to check that the information is still accurate and update where necessary. Finally, it’s worth noting that an existing EU trademark and the equivalent cloned mark will require separate renewals.

If your registered EU trademark is approaching expiry, there may not be time for the UKIPO to send you a renewal notification, so keep an eye out – you will need to pay separate renewal fees to the UKIPO and EUIPO if you wish to retain registration in both jurisdictions.

Email our Head of UK IP & Trademarks Wendy Lloyd-Goodwin for further information.

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