BREXIT and its potential impact on European Union trade marks
With the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, the question is immanent which consequences arise for EU trade marks from such an unprecedented act of an exit.
One of the possible consequences would be a continued validity of the new European Union trade mark Regulation (EUTMR) for the United Kingdom - either only for the already existing EU trade marks, or even for future EU trade marks. Any change to the EUTMR would then continue to be valid in the UK, without the UK being able to co-determine any amendment. However, it seems unlikely that the UK would continue to be bound by European Union law without the opportunity to affect its changes.
In the European Commission's paper on intellectual property rights of 6 September 20171, another variant of a possible consequence is favoured, according to which an existing EU trade mark will automatically be recognized in the United Kingdom as an equivalent national trade mark right. This could be obtained by the proprietor of a EU trade mark by registering an identical national trade mark with the UK Trademark Office, while maintaining the priority right of the EU trade mark. The corresponding EU trade mark would then lose its validity for the United Kingdom with the exit of the UK and be replaced by a new UK national trade mark. The EU Commission is proposing that this "conversion" be made free of charge for the proprietor. Since the registration of a national trade mark is subject to operating expenses, it is likely that the UK will try to negotiate at least a moderate fee.
This regulation, however, is problematic for those EU IP rights for which there are no equivalent national IP in the United Kingdom or Great Britain, such as geographical indications of origin.