After many months of uncertainty, and frankly Brexit boredom, we have now received a degree of assurance as to the manner in which European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) and Registered Community Design (RCD) rights will persist in the UK following Brexit.
Brexit Intellectual Property
This assurance has come from Robin Walker, the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, in a recent Parliamentary debate:
“UK-owned trademarks and design rights in the EU27 will be unaffected by our withdrawal. Meanwhile, we have agreed to protect all existing EU trademarks, 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.”
Whilst this is a welcome development towards clarity for brand owners, a large number of questions remain unanswered. One key issue which such an automatic system may generate is with regards to non-use. If the owner of an EUTM has maintained said registration based on use which has not taken place in the UK, their automatically generated UK equivalent right will likely immediately be subject to cancellation for non-use. This could be addressed by beginning a new 5 year period of non-use invulnerability. Nonetheless, it is a positive step that the seemingly automatic protection of intellectual property rights is being actively considered at this stage.
We will continue to keep you updated with all Brexit intellectual property developments. For further information or advice on how to Brexit-proof your business, please contact us.