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How Does Brexit Affect European Union Trademarks?

After withdrawing from the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) underwent an 11-month transition period, where EU trademark registrations remained in the UK. 

For business owners, there’s concern over the impact of the expiration of the transition on pending applications and existing trademarks and designs in the UK and EU.

Let’s find out what the major changes are below.

Effects on EU trademark filing and registrations post-Brexit

1. Registered EU trademarks as of December 31, 2020

Existing EU trademark owners who registered before or on December 31, 2020 will automatically have separate and enforceable UK and EU trademark registrations as of January 1, 2021. Trademark registrations for both the UK and EU are identical. They will have the same sign, descriptions, dates of use, and identifications of goods and services.

The creation of the UK trademark registration will not incur re-examination fees or any other additional costs. If the trademark owners are not interested in registering in the UK, they can opt-out of the automatic trademark cloning.

2. EU trademarks that are canceled or deemed invalid as of December 31, 2020

For trademarks that have been canceled in the EU on or before December 31, 2020, the equivalent UK trademark will also be considered canceled or invalid, if the reason for cancellation also applies in the UK. The date of cancellation will be the same.

3. Renewal of registered trademarks beginning January 1, 2021

Trademark owners must renew their EU trademarks and the equivalent UK trademarks separately. The newly created UK trademark registration will have the same renewal date as its EU counterpart. 

Trademark owners should note that there may be applicable renewal and other maintenance fees in compliance with the existing requirements of the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). 

4. EU trademark applications that are in process as of December 31, 2020

Unlike trademark owners with an existing registration, business owners with pending EU trademarks applications that are not yet maturing into a trademark registration post-Brexit are not provided automatic conversion. They must file a new UK trademark application if they want protection in the UK territory.

In such cases, business owners can file a new UK trademark application until September 30, 2021. The UK trademark application will have the same filing and priority dates as the EU trademark application. Normal fees for filing and maintenance will apply under the laws of the UKIPO. 

Should the business owners be unable to file a UK application by September 30, 2020, they will no longer benefit from the earlier filing date of their pending EU trademark registration. This means that that filing will undergo the normal process for new UK trademark applications, which includes examination procedures, compliance to priority requirements, and the payment of national filing fees.

By alison riot