International law firm Taylor Vinters says that If the UK votes for a ‘Brexit’ this week, the brand assets and intellectual property of thousands of British businesses could be affected.
Last year, 12,527 European Union Trade Mark (“EUTM”) applications were filed by British companies. This made the UK the second highest member state in terms of EUTM applications filed, at an estimated minimum cost of Eur10.6million (£8 million). The EU trade mark system means one EUTM registration provides protection in – and is enforceable in – all member states of the EU. This system has been in place since 1996.
Associate in the Commercial and Technology team at Taylor Vinters Jo Eales said: “In the eventuality of a vote to leave the EU, the UK would no longer be covered by the EUTM or be part of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) system. This will plunge UK trade mark law into uncharted territory, potentially affecting thousands of UK businesses if they rely on an EUTM for brand protection in the UK.
“If the UK leaves the EU, it is likely there will need to be some transitional negotiations to ensure that existing trade mark rights are not lost. In the short-term, it will be important for UK business’ to review their current trade mark portfolios to ensure they understand the scope of registered trade mark protection they have and in which territories. Business owners wishing to protect their trade marks in the UK will need to ensure they have protection by way of a UK national registration, rather than relying on the EUTM.
“The benefit of registered trade mark protection, is that it gives the proprietor the ability to prevent someone else using a trade mark that is the same or similar, and in a way that is likely to cause confusion or damage its reputation. A registered trade mark is a crucial element of brand protection for any business across any sector, but is especially pertinent for high-growth businesses considering expansion overseas, increasing market share through licensing deals or positioning the business for funding or M&A activity.”
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