Trade Marks in the European Union and United Kingdom

As the United Kingdom (UK) is withdrawing from the European Union, there is some uncertainty regarding what effect this will have on European Union IP rights such a trade marks, which currently extend to the UK as a member of the European Union.

In a position paper issued on 6 September 2017, the European Commission has set out some general principles which should apply. These principles include:

  • European Trade Marks registered prior to withdrawal should be recognised under UK law (as amended if necessary) and this should occur automatically, without the need for a further application to the UK.
  • European Trade Mark applications that are pending at the date of withdrawal should allow the applicant to claim any priority rights applicable to the European Union application when applying for equivalent protection for the mark in the UK.

These principles remain under discussion, and the final effect of Brexit on IP rights in the UK remains unknown, but the position is perhaps a little clearer now than it was when Brexit was first announced.


Prior to joining the firm, Russell worked as a solicitor with a major Melbourne law firm. His practice encompasses all aspects of trade marks, including searching and advising on the registrability of marks, applying for and obtaining registration of marks in Australia and overseas, and enforcement of trade mark rights.