21 December 2018Trademarks

Brexit is already costing trademark owners more money, says CITMA

Uncertainty around the post-Brexit future is causing businesses to spend more money on securing trademarks, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys ( CITMA) has told WIPR.

Under the draft withdrawal agreement proposed by the UK government and the EU, all existing EU trademarks will be “cloned” onto the UK register at no extra cost. Similarly, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, trademark owners will be offered the same protection.

For companies with pending applications in the EU on Brexit day, March 29, 2019, they will have nine months to re-file an application for their mark to be protected in the UK.

The government will also set up a new system to give EU geographical indications (GIs) the same protection in the UK by creating its own register.

While this should reassure businesses that their rights will still be protected post-Brexit, many are spending extra money to secure their trademarks, designs and GIs in the UK now, in view of uncertainty over how the transition will play out, according to CITMA.

“It’s the uncertainty causing the panic,” said chair of CITMA’s Brexit committee, Kate O’Rourke. “Businesses don’t like uncertainty. If we knew what was going to happen, we could plan.”

According to CITMA, businesses have already begun, in large numbers, to file for additional protection of their marks on the UK register.

Despite the extra costs to many businesses, O’Rourke said that IP rights owners are in “a good place”, with or without a deal.

“We are in as good a place as we can be; we know we have the commitment from the government and your existing rights will continue if registered already.”

After Brexit, however, businesses will also face higher costs because they will have to spend money on renewing two marks instead of one, as they previously did.

“This could possibly add another 50% to the cost of retaining registered rights across 28 countries,” said O’Rourke.

Additionally, O’Rourke said that upon leaving the EU, it seems unlikely on the basis of current negotiations, that UK attorneys will be able to represent their clients at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

“As a result, trademark owners will need to hire separate lawyers to represent them in the UK and in the EU, adding to the expenses,” she said.

However, O’Rourke added that many firms which do have offices in EU countries will be able to continue to act in the EU.

CITMA has been working with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to secure a positive outcome for trademark owners.

“We’ve worked really closely with the IPO to get the best possible result for IP rights owners. For those with already-registered rights, we are really glad the government made those agreements.”

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More on this story

14 February 2020   The theme of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA) Spring Conference will be “Beyond trademarks: a global perspective”, at the IET London, March 18–20, 2020.
2 June 2021   Having navigated its departure from the EU, the UK is set to maintain its place as a global IP leader, says Richard Goddard of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys.
23 July 2018   The UK government will convert existing EU trademarks and designs for free after Brexit, according to statements made during a House of Commons debate on Thursday, July 19.