With an uncanny sense of comedic timing, the film “Stan & Ollie” is being released this month in the UK. The famous duo’s catchphrase seems apt to describe the current state of the UK’s Brexit process. We still do not know how or when, or even if, the UK will leave the EU. However, if nothing changes, the UK will leave the EU on 29th March 2019.
This means there is a very real danger that trade mark owners and their advisors will be caught unawares. Here is our advice to trade mark owners everywhere, and to their advisors around the world, on how to be ready:
1. Make sure your existing UK attorneys have in place robust Brexit strategies.
As things stand, UK attorneys and lawyers will not in general be entitled to handle EU trade mark and design matters after 29th March 2019.
WE SAY: Wynne-Jones UK attorneys will still handle EU trade mark and design matters after 29th March 2019. We will do this by virtue of our part ownership of AIPEX*. In other words, we have a robust Brexit strategy in place – one less thing for Wynne-Jones’ clients to worry about at this uncertain time.
2. Existing EU trade mark registrations will be split automatically into separate EU and UK parts.
WE THINK: a UK address for service is advisable from day one because we expect the UK IPO to quickly diverge from EU IPO practice in lots of subtle but important ways.
3. EU design registrations may be split automatically in the same way, but this is yet to be confirmed.
PLEASE ENSURE: that your UK (or EEA) attorneys are alert to this in order to ensure there is no loss of rights.
4. Owners of EU trade mark and design applications will need to request the cloning of their applications into corresponding UK applications.
WE RECOMMEND: having a UK address for service as there will be an immediate need to liaise with the UK IPO in ways that will determine the outcome of the applications and the scope of protection acquired.
WE ADVISE THAT: If you or your clients have registrations that are due for renewal up to 28th September 2019, you can save fees by renewing them early and paying only one fee.
No action is needed – relax!
ENSURE: that your attorneys are alert to this and check if action is needed on a case by case basis.
A stitch in time saves “nein”
The UK will officially leave the EU on March 29th 2019. There is provisionally a transitional period until December 31st 2020, and we think the most likely outcome is that this will be extended, so that there is still plenty of time to sort out what to do about IP that is affected by Brexit. However, with everyone falling out, a “nein deal” is now a genuine possibility, and the UK has recently issued no deal guidelines for intellectual property.
What’s in a Name...?
No sooner has the EU Commission and the United Kingdom announced that they have agreed on a significant part of a draft Withdrawal Agreement, (which makes mention of intellectual property in Articles 50-57), than the Commission has issued a “Notice to Stakeholders” about .eu domain names.