BREXIT HAS BECOME PROBABLY THE LONGEST GAME OF WILL WE OR WON’T WE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD…

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Wynne Jones

Until, that is, we have the re-match and start negotiating our future relationship with the EU. If you are suffering from the illness called Brexit Fatigue, you are not alone. There’s a lot of it about.

For businesses, strategic planning and forecasting is incredibly difficult at such an uncertain time – and it’s the last thing anyone wants to do when suffering from a malaise. But planning and forecasting is vital. If we get a “Brexit Bounce” (and, goodness knows, we need one), we all need to be fighting fit to take advantage of it.

Fortunately, in intellectual property, there are some effective cures out there.

First things first; innovators that rely on patents are the lucky ones. They have natural immunity because patents will not be affected by Brexit. This is because the European Patent Office is not an EU institution – the Europe referred to here is geographical Europe, not political Europe.

In contrast, those whose intellectual property health depends wholly or partly on the European Union Intellectual Property Office (which handles trademarks and designs) have good cause to feel under the weather. Brexit means the UK will no longer be part of the EU trade mark and design systems, and so EU trade marks and designs will no longer cover the UK.

However, the good news is that there are various fast and effective cures, depending on how Brexit affects you:

  • If you have existing EU trade mark registrations and design registrations, you should be able to rely on a brand new cure that will mean new, separate UK registrations will be created automatically by the UK IPO for each of your EU ones. This should also happen for International trade marks and designs that designate the EU.

 

  • If you start your treatment at an earlier stage, when you have applications to register EU trade marks and designs, you will need a different medicine. In this case, you will need to apply to register corresponding UK trade marks and designs. As long as you do so within nine months of Brexit, the treatment should lead to a cure.

One of the most noticeable side effects of the available cures is that the vast majority of UK trade mark attorneys will not be able to handle European Union trademarks and designs after Brexit. On the flip side however, European trade mark attorneys will still be able to handle UK trade marks putting UK practitioners in an unfavourable position. The effect on the UK profession will be felt deeply.

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In the age in which we live, there are, of course, many so-called cures on the internet. But, can these be relied upon and how do you tell the difference between ones that work and ones that don’t and actually may end up doing more harm than good? Many UK trade mark and design attorneys have tried to broker deals with EU based contemporaries, and some have even opened their own EU offices. However, none of these are a proven cure. The former involves middlemen (so possibly extra cost), and the latter is not on its own sufficient to meet the requirements of the EU IPO.

Fortunately, in Wynne-Jones IP, we have inherited natural immunity as a result of our ownership (with three other IP firms in France, Germany and Benelux) of the EU based law firm, AIPEX BV. AIPEX BV is a pan-European IP firm incorporated in Rotterdam, and with offices in eleven European countries, and it is a ready-made IP cure for Brexit.

We’d like to take credit for this but, in truth, AIPEX was formed long before the EU referendum. But hang on, maybe we can take a little credit? Prevention is, of course, better than cure. And keeping fit is a good way of keeping energy levels high. Yep, we’ll take that. No Brexit Fatigue here!

For more advice on how Brexit might affect your IP talk to our Brexpert please contact Victor Caddy, Director and Trademark Attorney On 01242 267600 victor.caddy@wynne-jones.com