Following the shock result of the EU referendum, the last few months have been rife with questions that no-one has the answer to. The future of EU trademarks within the UK is one of those unanswerable questions.
Sadly, we will still be waiting on these answers for some time to come. Article 50 is yet to be invoked and, even when this has been done, the Lisbon Treaty sets out a two year period for the UK to agree trade deals, border controls and regulations to enable it to officially leave the European Union. In reality, this process is likely to take even longer.
When the time comes, these negotiations will undoubtedly cover whether or not the UK will be excluded from the European trademark system.
If you are a current EU trademark owner, at present the position remains the same and your trademark will continue to be valid in the UK until an agreement can be reached on the future of the European trademark system within the UK.
It is likely that the system will change following negotiations and that European marks will no longer extend to the UK. As the ECJ will no longer have jurisdiction within the UK, it is difficult to imagine a workable trademark system where the European Union Intellectual Property Office still has the power to grant marks that are valid in the UK.
However, if the system does change, it is also likely that a procedure will be agreed for converting current EU trademarks into UK trade marks. However, it is important to remember that this is speculation about what ‘is likely’ to happen and nothing is set in stone until an agreement has been reached.
If you are a current EU trademark holder, it is imperative that you stay vigilant and keep abreast of the negotiations to ensure your mark remains thoroughly protected. There may be steps to take in the future to convert your mark to be valid in the UK, or you may even need to complete a full new UK IPO application. A position may also be reached where you have no further action to take - but only time will tell.
If you are currently looking to apply for a European trademark and wish to be protected within the UK you should consider the often lengthy application process and decide whether you should apply via the European Intellectual Property only or, if you are risk averse, even consider making filings within both the UK and the EU.