Brexit has been a extended story – and the previously promised date of withdrawal, October 31, no longer feels so likely. The United Kingdom has formally asked for Brexit to be postponed until 31 January 2020, but with the possibility that this could happen sooner – something that EU leaders now have approved of. No matter what happens in the coming weeks, we know that Brexit is approaching – in one form or another. Below, Ports Group’s Head of Legal, Hanna Kaspers, has summarized what this means for organization’s trademarks and domain names.
The biggest change after Brexit is that new EU trademarks will lack trademark protection in the UK. In the future, a national application will be required (in the same way as it is for e.g. Norway and Switzerland today) to secure its protection in the UK.
In the case of already registered EU trademarks, these will be replaced on the day of withdrawal by the corresponding national trademarks by the UK IP Office (the UK’s equivalent of the Swedish Patent and Registration Office). This will happen automatically and will not cost the trademark holder anything. The new national brand will reflect the earlier EU brand regarding the application date, seniority, priority etc.
However, other conditions apply for ongoing (but non-approved) EU trademark applications. If you, as a company, have an ongoing EU application, you need to actively submit a new separate application to register an equal British trade mark within nine months of the date of withdrawal.
If you do this, your application will be processed as a national application with the same application date as your EU application – but the application must then refer to an identical brand and identical goods / services as the original application.
In terms of domain names the impact is not as extensive. Rules for .uk and .co.uk domains are intact. The big difference we already know though is that national companies (UK registered) will no longer be able to own .eu domains.
At Ports Group, we are prepared to help both new and old customers navigate the Brexit jungle. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about how this affects you!