As of 23:00 Friday 31st January 2020, nearly four years after the divisive referendum, the UK has formally left the European Union. For the remainder of 2020, the UK is now in what is known as the transition period, to allow the UK and EU to iron out what their future relationship agreement will be. Throughout this transition period, the UK will no longer have representation in the EU parliament or EU council etc, however will still follow EU rules during this period, remaining in both the Single Market and the Customs Union.
During this transition period, the UK will remain being covered with a European Trade Mark. It is not 100% certain at this stage whether after the transition period the UK continue to be part of the EUTM due to ongoing discussions, but the default likely position is from 1st January 2021 the UK will no longer be covered.
If you have an existing registered EUTM, at no extra cost, on 1st January 2021 the UK will provide you with an identical UK trade mark for the remaining duration of your existing EUTM meaning you have nothing to worry about, and would simply renew both the UK and EUTM come the renewal time.
Therefore up until July, a new application with a smooth registration for an EUTM will protect you in the UK as well for the next ten years.
However, Trade Marks which are pending on 1st January 2021 will not automatically receive a UK trade mark. Instead, a new trade mark for the UK would have to be made, but the filing date may be backdated to that of the EUTM filing date. Any new EUTM application from January 1st 2021 would not have any protection for the UK. As a EUTM takes on average 5months to be fully registered with no opposition, it is highly advisable to submit your EUTM application as soon as possible, but by July at the latest. Applications should be submitted as soon as possible, not only to offer your brand as much protection as possible, but also in case there are any third party oppositions or EU delays which result in the registration being delayed until 2021. Another reason to file as soon as possible, is that at present, the UKIPO only notifies other UK trade mark holders if your application is similar to theirs. EUTM holders do not receive this written notification. With the huge amount of all EUTM’s receiving a separate UK trade mark from 1st January 2021, any similar EUTM holder will now be notified of your application, which wouldn’t of happened previously, increasing the likelihood of opposition and difficulties with your registration.
BKIP’s UK office based in Birmingham will be following closely all Brexit updates, and continue to handle your UK or EU Trade Mark applications.