While the initial effects of Brexit on trade mark and design registrations are baked into our consciousness, one noteworthy aspect will only take effect at the start of next year. Trade mark and design owners should consider appointing a UK address for service to reduce the risk of third-party challenges being successful by default.
It is currently the case that every new trade mark or design application filed directly before the UKIPO requires an Address for Service in the UK, Gibraltar, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man (UK AFS). It is to this address that official documents will be sent, such as registration certificates, notices of opposition or applications for invalidation. The UK AFS can be any address associated with the owner or, indeed, be the address of its representative, such as a UK Trade Mark Attorney.
However, there are two categories of UK-effective trade mark and design rights that may not have a UK AFS, namely:
Bar the below-mentioned exemption, where there is no UK AFS and those rights become subject to challenge, the UKIPO will write to the non-UK address requesting a UK AFS, within one month. Should a UK AFS not be provided in good time, opposed applications will likely be treated as withdrawn, and registrations subject to attack will ultimately be considered surrendered without any input from the owners.
For further reading, readers are directed to Amelia Skelding’s article from February 2023: https://www.keltie.com/knowledge/ukipo-requires-uk-address-for-service-for-international-tms-and-designs).
Following Brexit, UK comparable trade marks and designs created from EU rights had been exempt from the requirement to provide a UK AFS, i.e. they could maintain EEA addresses. However, this will change from 1 January 2024 when the UKIPO will need a UK AFS for such rights in circumstances where:
Again, should a UK AFS not be provided within the one-month timeframe provided by the UKIPO, the challenged right will likely be terminated by default.
To ensure matters are handled in a timely manner, and to avoid the risk of losing valuable UK rights by not providing a UK AFS in good time, we recommend that owners of comparable UK trade marks and designs appoint a UK-based address of service prior to 1 January 2024.
Please contact the author or your usual attorney if you wish to appoint Keltie as your UK AFS without charge. We would be delighted to assist.
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