Client Alert: Don't Panic! Protecting your UK Trademark Coverage in the Wake of the 'Brexit'

Related Practices

Attorneys & Professionals

By: Laura T. Geyer

In the wake of the surprise outcome of the United Kingdom (UK) referendum on whether to leave the European Union (aka, the Brexit), many clients have asked what they should do to ensure continued trademark protection in the UK for their existing European Union (EU) registrations and future applications. In consultation with our network of UK counsel, we have the following advice and information for owners of EU trademarks with operations or desired coverage in the UK. 

Overall, it is important to understand that the UK has not actually left the EU yet and likely will not for some time. Actual separation requires that the UK’s prime minister invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union (2007). The current prime minister has said he will not do so and a new prime minister will not be selected before the fall.  It would be an understatement to say that the current political situation in the UK is such that there is no way of guessing when this will take place. Even after Article 50 is invoked, it will be at least two years before the UK officially leaves the EU from the time Article 50 is invoked. Extensive diplomatic negotiations will be required to work out the terms of the separation, including the terms of any new treaties. The negotiations will resolve handling of trademark coverage and other intellectual property matters. UK counsel have let us know that rights in EU registrations will almost certainly be converted into national rights in the UK, however, that is of course not guaranteed.

So, in the short term, we advise as follows:

Your Current EU Registrations

A Cautious Approach

Other Considerations

If you have any other specific questions concerning your company’s trademark coverage with respect to the “Brexit”, Vorys lawyers can, in consultation with expert lawyers in the UK, either answer such questions or obtain good guidance on practices to ensure protection in any eventuality.