Following the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union on 1st February 2020 and the transition period that ended on 31st December 2020, EU trademarks will no longer have legal effect in the UK. The effect that Brexit has had on European trademark rights depends on the status of the European trademark at the time the UK left the EU.
Before we deal with Brexit's changes to trademark rights, it is helpful to recap on what a trademark is. A trademark is a symbol, word or words used by a trader to distinguish its products or services from its competitors. A trademark can be a brand name, a company logo, a trading style, or even distinctive packaging. It can also consist of the shapes of products such as a bottle as well as slogans and straplines. To be registrable, a trademark must be distinctive, capable of being represented graphically, capable of distinguishing goods or services and not be excluded by statute.
EU Trademarks registered on or before 31st December 2020
- Owners of EU trademarks that were registered on or before 31st December 2020 automatically received a registered and enforceable UK trademark on 1st January 2021, without the need to incur any further costs or re-examination by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which deals with all UK trademark applications. The UK trademark is for the same sign, the same goods and the same filing, priority, or seniority date as the corresponding EU trademark. This process has been dubbed "cloning".
- EU trademark owners have the right to opt-out of this cloning process if they have no interest in having a UK registered trademark, for example, if they do not trade in the UK.
- As of 1st January 2021, EU registered trademarks, and their UK clones will have to be renewed separately.
- EU trademark registrations renewed before 1st January 2021 and will expire after 1st January 2021 will not apply to the UK cloning process. Also, UK clones expiring within the six months following 1st January 2021 will benefit from an additional six month renewal period with no late renewal fees applicable.
- If an EU trademark is declared invalid or cancelled, then the UK clone will also be deemed invalid or cancelled if the same grounds apply in the UK.
EU Trademarks filed on or before 31st December 2020
- EU trademark applications filed before 1st January 2021 but not registered by this date have not been automatically cloned.
- In these circumstances, the trademark owner has until 30th September 2021 to apply for an identical trademark in the UK. The UK trademark application will benefit from an earlier filing date that corresponds with the date the EU trademark application was filed. The UK trademark application will be subject to an examination process by the IPO, and filing fees will have to be paid to the IPO.
EU Trademarks filed as of 1st January 2021
- As of 1st January 2021, EU trademarks are not protected in the UK.
- To obtain trademark protection in the United Kingdom, a separate UK trademark will have to be applied for.
Here to Help
If you would like further information and assistance with trademarks or other intellectual property rights, our Intellectual Property Solicitors would be happy to help. You can contact us on 0161 941 4000 or email The Intellectual Property Team for more information.