Since the announcement that the UK was leaving the EU, there has been big questions as whether trademark owners holding registrations in the EU would still be protected in the UK once the full separation occurred in December 2020. Would all rights be lost in the UK? Would rights holders have to apply for new marks (or at least pay the fee for a new application)? Would the rights be retroactive to the filing date of the EU application?
There have been many unknowns with very little information being disclosed by the UK government. However, Robin Walker MP of Worchester and Undersecretary of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union, recently shed some light on the subject. He was asked what steps were being taken to “ensure that intellectual property rights in the creative sector were maintained.” He answered as follows:
“UK-owned trademarks and design rights in the EU27 will be unaffected by our withdrawal. Meanwhile, we have agreed to protect all existing EU trade marks, community-registered designs and unregistered designs in the UK as we leave the EU. In place of those EU-level rights, 1.5 million new UK trademarks and registered designs will be granted automatically and for free. The creative industries can therefore be confident that their existing intellectual property rights will not be diminished, and that the UK will remain one of the best places in the world to protect and enforce IP rights.”
Upon hearing the clarity provided by Mr. Walker, there was a collective sigh from rights holders heard around the world.
While there are still questions as to how such rights will be translated, transitioned to, and filed with the UK Trademark Office, more details are sure to follow in the upcoming year. But the assurances received from Mr. Walker is definitely a welcomed update. WHIPgroup will continue to watch how BREXIT unfolds and keep our clients up to date with the latest developments.
WHIPgroup is leading counsel for U.S. and international technology companies. We specialize in patent and trademark law.
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