We all know how important intellectual property rights can be. For example, trademarks attract consumers to you and differentiate your business from your competitors, especially in the food and drink sector. Further, having a registered design (such as a particular shaped glass or product packaging), may also attract consumers to your business.

Regardless of your political stance, one of the positives about being part of the European Union was that UK businesses could benefit from EU registered intellectual property right protection, most notably through registered EU trade mark protection, and through Registered Community Design (RCD) protection. 

Businesses with such registrations would enjoy protection within each of the EU member states, including the UK. As such, there was arguably no need for these businesses to have separate national-only protection in the UK under a UK-only trade mark or UK-only registered design. 

As things stand, there is no change in the level of protection an EU registered trade mark or RCD offers you. Businesses with such EU registered rights are able to enforce their rights within each of the 28 Member States of the EU, including the UK. However, this may soon change, with one thing being certain: once the UK leaves the EU, existing EU registered trade marks and RCDs would be unlikely to offer protection within the UK, unless legislation is passed which prevents this from being the case.

There are currently a few possible scenarios once the UK leaves the EU. Firstly, it may be that legislation is implemented which results in EU registered rights holders being able to benefit from continued protection in the UK. However, it may also be that no such legislation is introduced, resulting in rights holders losing their UK rights entirely. Alternatively, it may be that individuals are given the choice of converting their EU registered rights to UK rights, or keeping their EU rights only, although this is unlikely to occur.

So what should you be thinking about?

The fail-safe option would be to file for UK registered protection as well as EU protection. This would ensure that once the UK leaves the EU, in the absence of implemented legislation, you continue to benefit from registered protection within the UK and the EU. UK trade mark and UK registered design applications are significantly cheaper than EU applications, so if you have the budget this could be the safest option for you. 

However, filing a UK application now may not be necessary if legislation is implemented which allows EU registered rights to continue in force in the UK. The problem for you is that, at the moment, the intellectual property offices have kept quiet, as have the powers that be in the UK and EU. 

If you have any further questions about your intellectual property rights, why not speak to one of Briffa Legal’s intellectual property experts? They offer free consultations and can be contacted by phone at 020 7288 6003 or through www.briffa.com.