Consequences of Brexit on your brands in the United Kingdom: vade-mecum


Brexit was established on December 31 by the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, on the one hand, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the other hand, which entered into force provisionally on January 1, 2020.

Mindful of the impact of such an agreement on your commercial interests and in particular on your trademarks in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, UGGC Avocats requests that you find below a practical guide to help you take all measures to secure your post-Brexit trademarks.

It should be noted at the outset that under the terms of Article IP.4 of the Agreement on Trade, the United Kingdom has reaffirmed its commitment to comply with various international agreements relating to intellectual property, including :

  • The Madrid Protocol Concerning the International Registration of Marks ;
  • The Geneva and Singapore Treaties on the Law of Trademarks.

In addition, Articles IP.18 and following of the Trade Agreement include various stipulations designed to preserve the substance of trademark law hitherto in force in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and its harmonization with European Union law, concerning the following points:

  • the use of the Nice Classification (Article IP.18) ;
  • the definition of the signs that may constitute a trademark (Article IP.19);
  • the rights conferred by the trademark (Article IP.20);
  • the trademark registration procedure (Article IP.21);
  • the protection of well-known trademarks (Article IP.22);
  • exceptions to the rights conferred by a mark (Article IP.23);
  • causes of trademark revocation (Article IP.24);
  • the right to prohibit, under specified conditions, the affixing of a mark on a package or label (section IP.25);
  • and applications for registration filed in bad faith (Article IP.26).

Notwithstanding the advent of Brexit, the legal rules relating to all these elements should therefore in substance be maintained.

Vade-mecum of the owner or applicant of trademarks for the post-Brexit United Kingdom :

  • Step 1 : Make an assessment of your trademarks likely to be affected by Brexit.

We would like to remind you that Brexit is likely to affect various types of trademarks in force in the United Kingdom:

1- UK national trademarks and international trademarks designating the United Kingdom;

2- International trademarks designating the European Union;

3- European Union trademarks.

  • Step 2 : Identify your UK trademarks and international trademarks designating the United Kingdom.

Brexit has no major impact on the validity of these trademarks, which in principle remain in force according to legal rules substantially identical to those previously applicable to Brexit, as explained above.

  • Step 3 : Identify your international trademarks designating the European Union, registered as of January 1, 2021. Pay attention to the creation of a British “duplicate” trademark.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that “The United Kingdom shall take steps to ensure that natural or legal persons who have obtained protection before [January 1, 2021] for [registered marks] at the international level designating the Union under the Madrid System […], shall enjoy protection in the United Kingdom for their marks […] in respect of such international registrations. » [1]

According to the UK government’s newly published guidelines, any international trademark in force designating the European Union under the Madrid Protocol will no longer be protected in the UK from January 1, 2021.

However, a comparable UK trademark will be created in the UK – this trademark will be assignable, licensed, renewed separately from the pre-existing EU international trademark, from which it will be completely autonomous.

Any international trademark designating the European Union of which you would be the owner on January 1, 2021 will therefore be doubled by an equivalent trademark in the United Kingdom. It will be necessary to pay attention to the use and renewal of each of these two now distinct trademarks.

  • Step 4 : Identify your European Union trademarks registered on January 1, 2021. Be attentive to the creation of a British “duplicate” brand.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that the owner of a European Union trademark registered prior to January 1, 2021 becomes, without re-examination, the owner of a trademark in the United Kingdom, consisting of the same sign, for the same goods or services [2]

Any trademark from the European Union that you would own on January 1st 2021 will therefore be doubled by an equivalent trademark in the United Kingdom. You should pay attention to the use and renewal of each of these two now distinct trademarks.

  • Step 5 : Identify your European Union trademarks, which are in the process of being filed in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2021. Re-file them in the United Kingdom if you wish to obtain protection there.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that a European Union trademark that has been filed before January 1, 2021, but not yet registered, does not benefit from automatic protection in the United Kingdom.

In the case where you wish to obtain protection in the United Kingdom for a European Union trademark being filed on January 1, 2021, you are therefore invited to initiate a separate filing before UKIPO. This new filing will be subject to a full examination and payment of the UK national filing fees [3].

It should be noted in this respect that the British trademark thus filed will acquire the filing date of the pending European Union trademark of which it is the counterpart, provided that it is filed with UKIPO within nine (9) months following the filing date of the European Union trademark with EUIPO (right of priority).

As the registration period for European Union trademarks is long, it should be considered that any recently filed European Union trademark will have to be the subject of a second national filing in order to be protected in the United Kingdom.

  • Step 6: If you are a national of the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland: Designate a European representative to manage your trademarks in the European Union.

Under the terms of the aforementioned Trade Agreement, “only lawyers qualified in one of the EEA Member States and established in the EEA, if they are entitled in that Member State to act as a representative in trade mark or industrial property matters, and professional representatives whose names appear on the list maintained for that purpose by the Office, shall be entitled to represent a natural or legal person before the European Union Intellectual Property Office. »

Under these stipulations, any British national owning European Union trademarks must now, in his dealings with the European Union Office for Intellectual Property, appoint a European lawyer or a professional representative to represent him.

  • Step 6 bis: If you are a national of the European Union: Designate a British representative for the management of your trademarks in the United Kingdom.

As a corollary, as a national of the European Union, you should now appoint a British representative to represent you in the United Kingdom in front of the competent offices.

  • Step 7: Update your trademark portfolio.

This step is crucial to determine which of your trademarks are in force in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2021, and which ones need to be re-filed. More generally, it will allow you to integrate all the consequences of Brexit on your trademarks, as mentioned above, into a single document.

  • Step 8: Update any license agreement, in particular the license agreement entered into with respect to the aforementioned trademarks.

We draw your attention to the need to update, if necessary by way of an amendment, the license agreements, in particular those concluded with respect to the aforementioned trademarks, in the event that you wish to continue to use them in the United Kingdom, so that these agreements now include the aforementioned “duplicates” in their scope of application.

The Firm and its team of IP lawyers are naturally at your disposal to assist you in all these steps. 

By the IP-IT team for UGGC Avocats

Source: Eurlex

[1] Accord sur le retrait du Royaume-Uni de Grande-Bretagne et d’Irlande du Nord de l’Union européenne et de la Communauté européenne de l’énergie atomique published on 12 November 2019, article 56.

[2]Accord sur le retrait du Royaume-Uni de Grande-Bretagne et d’Irlande du Nord de l’Union européenne et de la Communauté européenne de l’énergie atomique published on 12 November 2019, article 54.1, a.

[3] Accord sur le retrait du Royaume-Uni de Grande-Bretagne et d’Irlande du Nord de l’Union européenne et de la Communauté européenne de l’énergie atomique published on 12 November 2019, article 59.1.

L’attribut alt de cette image est vide, son nom de fichier est article-uggc-ip-it-brexit-1024x518.png.
Corinne Khayat, Anne-Marie Pecoraro

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