UK Government confirms no official Registry fee will be payable on automatic conversion of registered EU trade marks and designs into national UK rights post-Brexit
The United Kingdom Government confirmed on 19th July 2018 that, it will convert all existing registered European Union trade mark and design registrations automatically and crucially for free into national UK registrations following the UK's exit from the EU, the so-called Brexit.
Robin Walker MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, made the commitment during a debate in the House of Commons. He said: "We have agreed to protect all existing EU trade marks, community registered designs and unregistered designs in the UK as we leave the EU. In place of those EU-level rights, 1.5 million new UK trade marks and registered designs will be granted automatically and for free".
The UKIPO subsequently confirmed this to be the case subject to the finalisation of a Withdrawal Agreement (between the UK and EU relating to the UK's departure from the EU and the UK/EU's future relationship). This announcement follows on from an existing draft agreement between the UK and the EU Commission, providing that EU trade marks and registered designs should continue to be protected automatically in the UK. In addition, subject to an overall deal on a transitional period going ahead, the UK will continue to be part of the EU trade mark and design system until the end of December 2020 (further details can be found here).
This is great news for IP owners. Provided the UK Government keeps to this commitment, there should be no need to refile existing EU trade marks and designs in the UK. The news that the process will be free is particularly welcome. However, given ongoing political uncertainty as the final terms of a Withdrawal Agreement and, indeed whether one will be reached at all, and the precise processes to be adopted relating to the "cloning" of EU mark onto the UK Trade Marks Register, we will continue to scrutinise very closely the developing legal position.
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