PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
BREXIT AND IP RIGHTS: WHAT YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW, AND WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Prosper asked Leona Walker, Senior Associate at Forresters, the Patent and Trade Mark attorneys, to provide some guidance.
What IP rights will be affected by Brexit?
EU trademarks and EU registered design rights will be affected, but not until the end of the transition period. Once the transition period has expired on 31st December 2020, new EU trademarks and EU registered designs will no longer be effective in the UK.
For a trademark or design to be recognised in the UK an application will need to be filed at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
Patents will not be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU, at all. There are no EU level rights for patents at present. The European Patent Convention, which governs the granting of European patents, is not a piece of EU legislation and so no action is required in this sense.
There is a question mark around what will happen to the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is a proposed single Court for the enforcement of European patents, once the transition period comes to an end. This is unclear, although the UK Government has ratified the Unified Patent Court agreement which intends to bring the proposed EU-wide Unitary Patent into force.
Will my EU trademark rights cease to exist?
No, your EU rights will continue to exist. At the end of the transition period, the UKIPO will automatically create equivalent UK trademarks for all EU trademarks that were registered/ granted before the end of the transition period, and no action will be required on your part.
These equivalent marks will retain the filing dates of the original EU trademarks and will also retain any priority and/or seniority dates. Of course, your EU trademarks will continue to exist as normal, with the only difference being that they will cover the remaining EU 27 Member States and not the UK.
The same will happen with EU registered designs – they will automatically be granted an equivalent UK national right. There should be no re-examination of any equivalent UK national right (trademarks or designs) created under these conversion provisions.
Will I receive a new registration certificate when my new comparable UK right is created?
No, the UKIPO is not planning to issue new registration certificates. You will be able to view details of your new equivalent UK right on the UKIPO website.
What if I have a pending EUTM or EU Design at the end of the transition period?
If your EU right is still pending on 31st December 2020, an equivalent right will not be created automatically. You will have a period of nine months after that date (i.e. until 30 September 2021) during which you can apply to register your EU right as the equivalent UK right.
The normal UK filing fees will apply, and the equivalent right will retain the same EU filing/priority date. These new applications for equivalent rights will then be examined in the same way as normal new UK applications.
Will Brexit affect my International Registration?
Yes, At the end of the transition period, any International Registration designating the EU will only be valid in the EU 27 Member States and will no longer have effect in the UK.
The UK will automatically create UK national equivalent rights (not designations under the IR) for International registrations designating the EU. These equivalent rights will retain the filing dates of the original International registrations and will also retain any priority and/or seniority dates.
For pending International applications, owners will have nine months to file for equivalent UK rights while retaining the filing/priority date of the pending IR designating the EU. The normal UK application fees will apply, and the new applications for equivalent rights will be examined in the same way as normal new UK applications. These international provisions apply both to trademarks and designs.
Will I need to appoint an EU-based attorney after the transition period – and are Forresters prepared?
Forresters are very well prepared for Brexit, and you will not need to appoint different attorneys – we will still be able to represent you. Not all UK firms will be able to continue their representation before the EUIPO but Forresters already has measures in place whereby we will continue to represent our clients seamlessly before the EUIPO.
What can I do to reduce any risk?
The UK government appears to have robust procedures in place to ensure that holders of EU trademarks and EU registered designs will continue to receive equivalent protection following the UK’s “final” exit from the EU, at the end of the transition period.
Therefore, we do not necessarily recommend making duplicate UK filings of all EU trademark and EU registered designs, between now and 31st December 2020.
In certain circumstances, you or your clients may wish to consider filing UK national trademark applications for those marks which are of particular importance in respect of the UK. While the additional UK filings for “doubling up” on existing EU applications and registrations may be seen as superfluous, this strategy of filing UK applications now will remove any uncertainty.
We are offering heavily discounted fees for UK national applications which mirror EU applications and existing EU registrations.
Do I need to take action now?
No, it is not essential to take any action now, especially as existing rights should now be safeguarded.