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Brexit breaks brands - don't get hurt! 3 terrifying possibilites

What could Brexit do to your brand?

Brexit initially caused panic in the markets. But the effects of Brexit are harder to calculate in the long term. One effect could be on IP (intellectual property rights). IP rights are the property rights to ideas. Some types of ideas that can be protected as property include names and logos – called trademarks.

If you want to know more about trademarks, check out our answers on all things trademark here. But if you want to know how Brexit could zap your trademark rights – and potentially break your brand – keep reading!

The below post was written by the amazing Jos van der Linden *, the head trademark attorney at Meiermarken. Based in Tilburg (the Netherlands) and Dusseldorf (Germany), Meiermarken handles European wide and local trademarks.

 
 
 
 

JOS VAN DER LINDEN ON BREXIT: EFFECT ON TRADEMARKS

The United Kingdom has chosen to leave the EU. This will surely have consequences for the economies of the UK itself, and the rest of the EU. Also holders of EU trademarks and EU registered designs will be affected.

The International Trademark Association or INTA  asserted: “While BREXIT initiates a period of uncertainly for brand owners, it is important to note that nothing will change immediately. This is the beginning of a process during which the UK and the European Union will negotiate the terms of the separation. During this time, the UK will continue being a full member of the EU subject to all its rules and regular activity.”

Maybe not immediately, as INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo stated in the quote above, but trademark holders as well as their representatives cannot afford to look away. From the day the actual separation becomes effective, the UK will no longer be part of the EUIPO system, so companies holding EU Trademarks or EU registered design, both from the UK and abroad, face the reality of having their IP protection in the UK affected.

A solution needs to be found by the authorities, before the actual exit from the EU. It is still uncertain how this will play out, but I’ve asked around among some colleagues in the field, and the following three scenarios seem possible alternatives:

Scenario 1: First there is the possibility that nothing is done and holders of a EU registration who don’t take action themselves, suddenly don’t have any protection in the UK anymore. This would be the worst option (and least likely IMHO). Quickly filing a national trademark (either locally through an agent or via WIPO’s Madrid system) would seem the solution for this.

Scenario 2: Second possibility is that there will be a 1 on 1 transformation from EU registrations into the national system. This would require no immediate action on the side of the trademark holders/representatives … until the renewal date, that is! A reminder must be added into one’s system for the term of extra renewal for the converted national UK trademark, and of course now there will be renewal fee due in the UK, beside the EU renewal fee.

Scenario 3: Third option would be a conversion period, allowing EU trademark holders a timeframe of, say, 6 months after the actual Brexit, in which they themselves have the opportunity to convert their EU Rights to a national registration in the UK. The procedure would be very much like a normal national trademark filing in the UK, with comparable costs, but also a new examination by the UK authorities with the possibility of refusals and/or oppositions by third parties. However once registered that would mean a new UK trademark, with a new filing date and validity of 10 years.

All in all there’s much uncertainty, but it’s clear that trademark holders and representatives should keep an eye on this.

*Jos didn’t come up with the title so don’t blame him – I wrote that (D’vorah Graeser).