Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Trademarks: What You Need to Know
The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement marks the end of the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union. While there are many implications of this, one that may have gone overlooked is the impact on trademarks. If you’re a trademark owner or brand manager, it’s important to understand what the Withdrawal Agreement means for your intellectual property.
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
1. European Union Trademarks: The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transitional period until December 31, 2020, during which European Union Trademarks (EUTMs) will continue to have effect in the UK. This means that EUTMs registered before the end of the transitional period will remain valid and enforceable in the UK until their renewal date.
2. Conversion of EUTMs to UK Trademarks: If you own an EUTM, you can choose to convert it to a UK trademark by filing an application with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) within the transitional period. The UKIPO will examine the application and, if approved, will register the UK trademark with the same filing date as the EUTM.
3. Pending EUTM Applications: If you have a pending EUTM application as of the end of the transitional period, you will be able to file a corresponding UK trademark application within nine months of the end of the transitional period and claim the same filing date as the EUTM.
4. Exhaustion of Rights: The Withdrawal Agreement provides that exhaustion of rights (i.e. the principle that once a trademark owner has sold goods within the European Economic Area, they cannot use their trademark to control further distribution) will continue to apply to goods placed on the market in the EEA before the end of the transitional period. This means that, for example, a UK-based company that has sold goods in the EEA under their trademark will not be able to prevent those goods from being imported into the UK after the end of the transitional period.
5. Effect on UK Trademarks: The Withdrawal Agreement does not directly affect UK trademarks. They will continue to be valid and enforceable in the UK and maintain their priority and seniority claims in other countries.
In conclusion, the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement will have implications for trademarks owned by UK and EEA-based companies. If you own an EUTM, you should consider converting it to a UK trademark or filing a corresponding UK trademark application to maintain protection in the UK. It’s also important to understand the impact on exhaustion of rights and how it may affect your ability to control the distribution of goods under your trademark. Consulting with an experienced trademark attorney can help you navigate these changes and ensure that your intellectual property is properly protected.