Articles | Deal or no deal: how will Brexit affect EU trade marks?

Susan Wells looks at the European Commission’s recent notice as to how a “no deal” Brexit would affect EU trade marks.

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Susan Wells

Susan Wells

The possibility of the UK leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement is the subject of daily speculation at the moment.

To give some clarification on how this would affect the holders and applicants of EU trade marks and designs, the EU has recently issued some guidance.

The expectation is that the UK will leave the EU on 30 March 2019. If that happens and, in the absence of any other agreement between the two parties, all EU primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the UK from that date.

The EU has confirmed that this would mean all trade marks and designs registered in the EU would continue to have effect in the remaining 27 EU member states, but they would no longer have any effect in the UK.

The same principle would also apply to international registrations of trade marks and designs having designated the EU before the withdrawal date pursuant to the Madrid system for the international registration of marks.

Such a stark outcome may yet be avoided. For example, any transitional agreement between the UK and the EU could include a process to enable trade marks and design rights granted in the EU to take effect in the UK and/or the UK could pass domestic legislation to address the issue.

However some trade mark owners may decide to take the precaution of making additional UK registrations in addition to their existing EU registrations to head-off the possibility of having no protection in the UK post-Brexit.