What does Brexit mean for your trade mark?
Following the UK exit from the EU after a majority vote to leave on the referendum held on the 23rd June, motions have started to implement the change.
However, many businesses are unsure on exactly how this change will affect them, especially the effect on their IP rights.
As one of the most commonly used types of intellectual property, trade marks can be used by any business and are a very effective way of building a brand. However, for those who have registered for their trade mark to be protected in the EU, the future is uncertain.
However, there are a number of steps you can take to secure your brand.
First thing to stress is that there is no rush. The EU and its laws is intertwined with us therefore we cannot leave overnight. It is thought the negotiation process to ensure the UK leaves properly is going to take at least two years. During this period, the UK is still a member of the EU.
Therefore, if you have a EU registered trade mark, you will still have protection throughout the EU including in the UK during this period.
It is after this where things get complicated.
While it is unclear if any deal with be developed during the negotiations affecting trademarks, steps need to be taken to prepare for the worst.
If no special agreement is drawn up, all EU trademarks will no longer gives protection to the mark and its use in the UK. You are then open to infringement in the UK and will not have the right to prevent it.
The best step to take is to submit an application with the UK Intellectual Property Office for solely UK protection. This will then allow you to continue trading in the UK, safe in the knowledge you are protected.
In addition, you need to be sure that your mark is being used sufficiently in the EU once its use in the UK is out of the equation. The mark needs to be put to genuine use otherwise it can be removed from the register for non-use.
This is, therefore, the time to consider and review all of your trademarks and their position.
Do you need EU wide protection or will just UK protection suffice?
Are you using your trade mark effectively in the other EU member states to warrant its registration?
And lastly, is your trade mark sufficiently protected in all jurisdictions in which you trade to ensure you will not be the victim of infringement?
For more information or to start a trade mark registration application, contact Jane at The Trademarkroom.
By Ellis Sweetenham