21 May 2018

Madrid System Flourishes


The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union—Brexit—is a source of major uncertainty in legal circles and beyond. Since the United Kingdom is the first major economy to leave the European Union in its current form (others, including Greenland, departed when it was the European Community), the world is watching to see how the country will navigate its way through rocky waters.

Released in March 2018, a joint draft withdrawal agreement on the United Kingdom’s departure have calmed—for now—some fears around a range of issues, including trademarks, but other questions have been left unanswered. Additionally, it cannot be overstated that the draft withdrawal agreement contains no guarantees, since “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”—a key negotiating principle that the European Union and United Kingdom will strictly observe.

“The result of the U.K. referendum created a great deal of uncertainty over what IP rights the owners of registered EU trade marks (EUTMs) and registered Community designs (RCDs) would have (or would have to obtain) in the United Kingdom after Brexit,” says David Birchall, Partner at Venner Shipley LLP (UK).

While critics have expressed hostility toward the consequences of the Brexit vote, in June 2016, Mr. Birchall believes that it may not be all doom and gloom for owners of EU registered rights requiring IP protection in the United Kingdom, as had been feared.

He explains that since the referendum, some “cautious brand owners” have secured national U.K. trademark rights so they could be certain that they would have trademark protection after the nation leaves the European Union.

“The March 2018 draft of the withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom suggests that the impact on trademarks and designs might not be as dramatic as had been feared,” he says.

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