The looming deadline for the United Kingdom to make its exodus from the EU is less than a month away. While this seems to be a cataclysmic event politically, for the most part, intellectual property and internet affairs are a bit more predictable.
For example, copyright laws and protection are principally based on international treaties outdating the EU, so for the most parts, there’s no fundamental change. The EU has introduced some more detailed copyright protections, for example in the field of database protection, satellite broadcasting and portability of online contents from one EU country to another (e.g. Netflix contents). On the whole, the impact of Brexit, with no deal, is quite limited.
Copyright laws may receive no major issues. However, trademarks are a different story and as a result will experience effects worth noting. In this article, we will discuss how Brexit will affect EU trademarks going forward after the March 29 deadline.
What is Brexit?
Pending since the last 2 years, Brexit is short for BRitain’s EXIT from the European Union (EU). On the 29 March 2019 Brexit will come into effect, however, this may be delayed further. What does this mean for EU Trademarks and internet property like domains? Let’s discuss.
No Deal Brexit & EU Trademarks
The UK and the EU were unable to negotiate a deal ahead of the March 29 breakup. The UK government has settled on comprehensive guidelines where trademarks are concerned. As a result, the treatment of trademarks and designs will have a more automatic rollover effect as if a deal was reached. Registered trademarks will simply convert to a national trademark in the UK. However, pending EU trademark applications must be re-filled in the UK during the 9 month period following the Brexit date. Those applications will be subjected to the normal examination process, and be applicable for UK government fees.
It is not exactly clear whether the conversion of registered EU trademarks to UK trademarks will be completely automatic and free of fee charges, or whether a minor fee will be payable. The government in the UK has said that the conversion will go into effect with little to no administrative burden. For the most part, it should be automatic without incurring extra costs, though not yet confirmed.
Domain owners of small businesses and larger companies will need trademarks to protect them going forward post Brexit. Especially if they owned EU trademarks for businesses in the EU. Those former trademarks will not retain the same power unless transferred under UK Trademark. The same goes for new businesses wanting to register new trademarks post Brexit or those that have trademarks pending as aforementioned.
Concerning unregistered EU designs, they will continue as they always have in the UK even after Brexit. The UK doesn’t currently protect under law unregistered designs, apart from under EU legislation, but they have indicated that a corresponding national right will be created following Brexit.
Things to note on how Brexit affects EU Trademarks
- Brands in the United Kingdom will no longer be a part of the European Union. This means that EU Trademarks will be null and void in the UK.
- Business owners of European trademarks will no longer have protection within the UK. Therefore trademarks will have to be registered under UK legislation.
- In order to have full protection, UK brands must be registered in the UK.
- There will be no legal basis for EU trademarks in the United Kingdom.
For the most part, it seems that trademark and design owners will not experience much growing pains as a result of Brexit. However, be sure to check on your trademarks or make your new applications.
Information about Trademarks for New Business Owners
For new trademarks subsequent Brexit on 29 March 2019, you want to ensure that when registering EU trademarks you are protected under UK legislation. Going forward, new applications will be vetted under a new process. You can find out more information about registering EU trademarks and UK based trademarks from this registrar.
Using the .eu TLD post Brexit
Brexit has left no stone untouched and the internet real estate sector is not exempt. Businesses within the UK which operated websites under the .eu TLD will need to make some adjustments by the end of March 2019.
This is where premium hosting and domain services come in. If you are hoping to retain the use of your top-level domain .eu in order to continue doing business within the EU post-Brexit then you may want to consider using a proxy service.
This is because retaining a .eu domain will be difficult if the registrar’s country is in Great Britain or Great Ireland. With Brexit comes geolocation restrictions on owning websites with the .eu for operation outside of the European Union. Not to worry premium hosting providers within the UK have a way to mitigate this and allow you to operate your .eu site.
Brexit is here
There is no more speculation about when Brexit will go into effect, it is here. You still have time to ensure that your online business is fully prepared and ready for the looming transition. With this departure, the United Kingdom is no longer a part of European brands online or offline.
The take away here is this, now that the UK is completely set to leave the EU you know that your EU Trademarks need UK Protection, and while old trademarks may automatically roll over, pending and new applications must ensure that they will be solely covered under UK Legislation. Design holders will be unaffected. And data transfer will be slightly affected as well. Copyright laws remain the same. Internet real estate where .eu TLDs are concerned to have new rules applied to them that must be addressed on or before the 29 March 2019.
With Brexit, having the right UK hosting provider is crucial to your business’ continued success during this changing political climate. Don’t let your business experience transitional growing pains associated with Brexit. You’ve taken the time to equip yourself with the knowledge of how this affects your e-business now it is time to take the necessary steps and ensure that your business is Brexit ready.
Those companies that have registered their EU trademarks prior to the Brexit date will hardly be affected and will have an easier time than those who still have their trademark applications pending or are just beginning the process. This is why it is imperative to check the status of your EU trademark before 29 March 2019. As for retaining the use of your .eu TLD that will be impossible without a proxy service. Therefore, you might want to consider the other option of reverting to a new TLD.