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Trade Mark and Designs Considerations Following the UK’s EU Referendum

The referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) does not bring about any immediate changes to IP law. EU trade mark (TM) registrations and EU registered designs remain in force in the UK. This will continue at least until the moment that the UK leaves the EU. At that point, new laws that have not yet been devised are expected to take effect.

There is likely to be a process for converting the UK part of a subsisting EU right to a corresponding national right in the UK. It is unclear what that process will be and what transitional provisions will be put in place to deal with matters such as the timing of conversion and the enforcement of rights in the interim.

In view of this, it would be prudent for trade mark and design owners to consider now obtaining concurrent protection for their TM and design rights in the UK and in the EU. This will be particularly relevant to those who view the UK as a key market for their goods or services, those whose products are regularly counterfeited and those who wish to maintain effective defensive protection for their trade mark in the UK, even though their mark is not currently used in the UK.

Once the timing and conditions of the UK's exit from the EU are clearer, right owners will be able to consider their position and will have the extra flexibility of a secured UK right and may have avoided the need to undergo a conversion process.