Brexit: 31 January 2020, 11pm (UK time) – will Trade Marks and Designs be affected?

United Kingdom

United Kingdom 23 January 2020

Currently, it is expected that Brexit will take effect on 31 January 2020, 11pm (UK time). This article provides a brief update on what Brexit means for EU trade marks and designs, and their coverage of the UK.

Timelines

On 23 June 2016, a referendum was held in the UK on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU. 52 per cent of voters favoured leaving the EU. On 29 March 2017, the UK gave notice that it intended to leave the EU. The UK is due to exit the EU on 31 January 2020, 11pm (UK time). Following Brexit there will be a time-limited implementation period, which will last until 11pm on 31 December 2020 (‘IP completion day’).

On 19 December 2019, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill serves the purpose of implementing the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. An extension of the implementation period is currently unlikely as Clause 33 of the Bill on its face precludes the UK from extending the implementation period. As a matter of constitutional law this may be ineffective, but it is a very strong indication of the underlying policy intention. The Withdrawal Agreement aims to ensure that EU law will continue to apply to the UK during the implementation period and that EU rules continue to be interpreted and applied consistently in the EU and UK. New EU law which comes into effect during the implementation period is intended to automatically also apply in the UK.

The Bill has completed its initial stages in both the House of Commons and House of Lords. Royal assent is scheduled to take place later today, at which point the Bill will become the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act, and part of UK law. The European Parliament is expected to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement on 29 January 2020. There is still a possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, but this seems unlikely.

The Withdrawal Agreement is intended to ensure that there are no changes to EU trade mark and design applications, registrations, or proceedings relating to EU trade marks and designs until the end of the implementation period. The UK’s exit from the EU should only affect EU trade marks and designs when the implementation period ends, currently expected to be 31 December 2020. We have updated our previous guidance/checklists regarding the changes relating to EU and UK trade marks and designs following the implementation period. In particular, UK trade mark registrations and design registrations equivalent to existing EU trade mark and design registration will be created at the end of the implementation period, i.e. 31 December 2020 – not at the end of January 2020.

Please see below links for the checklists tables in PDF format: 

Brexit: Trade Mark Checklist

Brexit: EU Designs Checklist