On 23 March, OHIM became the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Community trade mark (“CTM”) became the European Union trade mark (“EUTM”). That change is however insignificant when viewed alongside the UK’s decision today to leave the EU. For years many businesses will have invested in a CTM / EUTM in the knowledge that a single trade mark right would cover all of Europe, including the UK. That logic of course now falls away, as although Europe remains covered, the UK will cease to be within Europe. Although countries have joined the EUTM system via a tried and tested route, the UK will be the first country to leave and such action is without precedent. The obvious answer will be to split existing EUTMs into an EUTM and a separate new UK TM, either automatically or upon application by the owner. After such split, brand owners wanting to file new applications to cover the “old EU” will then have the added expense of filing and prosecuting 2 applications. Whatever happens, we can be sure that it won’t happen quickly; unpicking the myriad of agreements between the UK and the EU will take many years to complete. A brand owner wanting to enter the UK/EU market in the near future would be well advised to think ahead and file separately for UK and EU rights.
The UK has voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years in an historic referendum.