A trade mark or “brand” is a sign used by a trader to differentiate their goods from those of other traders and may come in the form of a name, slogan or simply the distinctive style of packaging of a product. A trade mark provides the consumer not only with reassurance about the origin of the product but also about other features such as quality, price or practicality and the creation, management and protection of trade marks are therefore crucial to building brand loyalty and ensuring commercial success.
UK registered marks and international (UK) marks are enforceable throughout the UK and the Isle of Man only. The European Union Trade Mark (EUTM) provides a means of obtaining a single trade mark registration covering the whole of the EU. An EUTM therefore gives the owner the right to object to infringement throughout the EU. In addition, the proprietor may be entitled to apply for EU-wide relief in respect of all infringing acts in the EU, instead of having to run several actions in several different member states.
Following Brexit, the UK will no longer be an EU member state and whilst an EUTM will continue to be valid in the remaining EU member states it will no longer cover the UK, subject to any agreements to the contrary. So far the government has not announced what, if any, arrangements will be put in place to ensure that EUTM holders will continue to enjoy UK trade mark protection however one suggested model is that there will be an agreement between the UK and the EU whereby EUTMs will continue to have effect in the UK either by these being automatically mirrored as UK trade marks or rights owners opting-in to apply for recognition of their existing EUTMs as national UK trade marks.
It is impossible to know definitively at this stage which mechanism will be used to ensure the safeguarding of trade mark rights in the UK and if there will be cost implications or any necessary steps or procedures to be taken by the owners of EUTMs to obtain the necessary corresponding UK national rights.
The UK Intellectual Property Office continues to provide further updates and information in relation to the effect of Brexit upon intellectual property rights which is available at gov.uk.
If you should have any additional queries in respect of trade marks or intellectual property rights generally, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01908 660966 or alternatively at firstname.lastname@example.org.