“No deal” Brexit and trademark rights

Brexit – No deal et droit des marquesIn case where the European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement is signed and ratified by the parties, it will offer advantages in terms of intellectual property rights protection by ensuring continuous protection in the UK.  There are many unaddressed issues concerning trademark rights registered in the European Union. Today, less than eight months before the Great Britain leaves the EU, the chances of reaching an agreement are getting slimmer.

Although the European Commission is still working on an agreement, in July’s press release it called on its’ member statesto be ready for a “no deal”. This was enough to cause unease among the member states who counted on a transition period to be negotiated with respect to intellectual property rights. On August 9, 2018, Jeremy Hunt, British Foreign Secretary, declared at a press conference in Helsinki that: “Everyone needs to prepare for the possibility of a chaotic no-deal Brexit” which, of course, is a worst-case scenario for everyone.

There is still an uncertainty regarding the EU trademarks that were registered before the leave of the United Kingdom. The UKIPO (UK Intellectual Property Office) confirmed that the trademarks registered in the European Union would have a continuous protection in the UK. This position was to be formalized in the Withdrawal Agreement. If the parties fail to negotiate an agreement, it is likely that other ways will be found to ensure continuance of trademark rights in the UK, but it will certainly be more complex.

Given the circumstances, it is critical to take all necessary measures to secure your intellectual property rights.  To that end, we advise our clients to register  national trademarks in the United Kingdom for any new registration of a European Union trademark or an international trademark targeting the European Union.