Nothing over the last few weeks has done anything to dispel the uncertainty that hangs over Brexit. Parliament emphatically rejected the proposed EU withdrawal agreement on 15 January and the last week has seen a number of proposed amendments* to the withdrawal agreement defeated. There are now only around 50 days until Brexit and the UK’s position hasn’t changed much since Article 50 was triggered nearly two years ago….
As a result it remains to be seen whether EU trade marks and designs will benefit from the managed Brexit and the transition period that a withdrawal agreement would offer. The alternatives appear to be the cliff edge of a “no deal” (or “WTO Brexit”), or a second referendum in the UK that could lead to no Brexit at all (though Labour’s reluctance to engage with this option means that in IPcopy’s view the chances of a second vote seem to be receding all the time). To allow time for further consideration it is also possible that the UK’s departure from the EU will be delayed beyond the expected date of 29 March 2019, though this would require the agreement from the remaining EU-27.
As regular readers of this blog will know, IPcopywriters work at Keltie and, regardless of the Brexit outcome, one thing is certain: there will be no disruption in how Keltie represents its clients before the EUIPO. Since September 2016, Keltie has been open for business in the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member state. Keltie has a partner-led group of professionals resident full-time in Ireland and a wider group of attorneys who handle EUIPO cases from both Ireland and the UK.
On 16 January, the UKIPO published further guidance on the treatment of IP post-Brexit, which can be read here.
Further clarification was given with the following guidance on the treatment of trade marks and designs in the event of there being no Brexit deal. Click here to view the guidance.
In any scenario, including one which does not involve a deal between the UK and the EU, the UK Government will seek to minimise disruption for business and to provide for a smooth transition. In particular, UK government policy is that pre-existing EU trade mark and design rights will remain effective in the UK even in the event of “no deal”. The Government continues to look at various options and is discussing the best way forward with users of the system.
For now Keltie’s recommendation is that clients intending to file EUTMs and with important interests in the UK should file both UKTMs and EUTMs in parallel. Similarly, clients intending to file registered community designs (RCDs) should consider parallel RCD and UK registered design filings.
If you have any concerns relating to the impact of Brexit on European IP rights, please contact your patent or trade mark representative or drop us a line. We will answer any questions you have regarding Brexit and, of course, IP in general.
Charlotte Wilding 5 February 2019
*As noted by many people online last week, the names of the various amendments had the air of cheap airport thrillers about them….“The Malthouse Compromise” …coming soon to all good bookshops