The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum took place on June 23, 2016, resulting in a vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The referendum will have far reaching impact, including on trademark rights.
Many businesses with interests in the UK own European Trademarks (EUTMs, formerly called Community Trade Marks or CTMs). Businesses did this, rather than file UK national trademarks, because EUTMs provided cost-effective protection across all of the member states of the European Community. The question is whether brand owners will continue to enjoy trademark protection in the UK after it leaves the EU.
This issue will surely be addressed during the UK government’s negotiations with the EU, and in the resulting legislative scheme that will take effect. While it is possible that EUTM rights will be grandfathered, ensuring continuous trademark protection in the UK, there will be uncertainty on this point for some time.
Until Brexit actually occurs, the UK remains a member of the EU, and existing EUTM rights remain in force. That being said, businesses with interests in Europe should review their trademark portfolios and consider whether to file fresh trademark applications in the United Kingdom in order to secure their rights.