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Brexit and IP: UKIPO update on conversion of EU Trade Marks and Registered Community Designs

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brexit-1481028_1920Following statements made recently in the House of Commons during an “Exiting the European Union” debate, the UK Intellectual Property Office has updated its “IP and BREXIT: The factspage with further details on its plans for handling European Union Trade Marks (EUTMs), Registered Community Designs (RCDs) and Unregistered Community Designs as the UK exits the EU.

By way of a brief recap readers will recall the March 2018 version of the draft Withdrawal Agreement covering the UK’s departure from the EU confirmed a number of IP related elements that had been agreed (see the sections in green between Articles 50-57) but that the registration procedure (for the conversion of EUTMs and RCDs) was still the subject of negotiations.

The recent comments in the House of Commons and on the UKIPO website confirm that it is the UK’s intention to convert all EUTMs, RCDs and unregistered community designs into comparable UK rights and that this conversion process will be automatic and free of charge. This will have the effect of creating over 1.7 million comparable UK rights on the UK trade mark and design registers.

Therefore under the UK’s plans, at the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) brand and design owners will automatically become the owners of comparable UK rights. This should hopefully provide some level of reassurance to owners of IP rights though IPcopy notes that the UKIPO Brexit page is careful to point out that this registration process is “subject to agreement of the Withdrawal Agreement”. It will therefore be worthwhile tracking the progress of the Withdrawal Agreement throughout the Autumn since a “no-deal” Brexit could throw things back up in the air again.

It is also noted that the above conversion of EUTMs and RCDs applies to granted rights only. Any EUTM or RCD applications that are pending at the end of the transition period will need to be re-filed in the UK within the 9 month period envisaged by Article 55 of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mark Richardson 14 August 2018

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