One consequence of the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union is the questions it raises regarding European trademark protection. The UK’s “Brexit” potentially will disrupt both the trademark registration process in the EU and registrants’ trademark rights in the UK.
For the immediate future, there is no change. EU trademark registrations are protected in the UK by statute as if they were UK registrations. As a result, owners of EU trademark registrations will continue to enjoy protection in the UK, either by a statutory order, or potentially by way of division from the EU trademark registrations, which might or might not require some action by the trademark owners. If anything, EU trademark owners may need to file in the UK and claim seniority from the corresponding EU registrations, although this would be sometime in the future.
It is unclear at this stage whether EU applications filed after June 23, 2016 and before the “Brexit” is complete, or pending as of that date, will extend any protections to the UK. However, going forward, trademark owners with (or planning to have) operations in the UK would be well advised to file separate UK and EU applications to register new marks.