Are Your EU Trademarks Still Protected In the UK after Brexit?

Are Your EU Trademarks Still Protected In the UK after Brexit?
Yes… For now.

Many franchisors, like other businesses, rather than file trademark applications in individual countries have sought to protect their trademarks in Europe by filing for an EU mark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which grants protection in all 28 countries of the European Union.

The recent vote by the British people to leave the EU has created uncertainty as to the long term status of EU marks in the United Kingdom.Ultimately, Brexit means that EU marks will no longer be recognized in the UK and vice versa.  However, for now, the UK remains a full member of the EU until it negotiates its exit, supposedly in the next two years.  During that time, marks registered with the European Union willstill berecognized in the UK.

It’s in the EU’s and the UK’s interests to address trademark rights in the forthcoming exit negotiations.  Hopefully, measures will be put in place to ensure that owners of existing EU registrations will easily be able to obtain UK protection, either automatically or through some streamlined application process.

Moving forward, in anticipation of Brexit and the uncertainty as to what will happen next, it’s prudent to register marks not only in the EU, but also directly in the UK.

One other significant Brexit issue is the interpretation in trademark license agreements, such as franchise agreements, that refer to the territorial rights as the “European Union”.  Whether this term in existing agreements will cover the UK after it formally leaves the EU is a matter of interpretation and perhaps litigation.  One thing is certain;franchise agreements drafted moving forward should be explicit on this pointin order to avoid any dispute.