Six years on from the Brexit referendum, we can happily say that the measures put in place for trade marks and designs have been successful in delivering a smooth transition. But IP owners now need to pay attention to upcoming changes to rights of representation, particularly in light of the huge growth in applications at the UK IPO.
The UK IPO did a very good job of seamlessly creating more than 2 million comparable UK trade mark and re-registered design rights on 31 December 2020, based on EUTMs and RCDs registered at that date.
On 30 September 2021, the nine-month period to file UK trade mark applications based on EUTM applications that were pending on 31 December 2020 expired.
Partly as a result of Brexit, the UK IPO has seen a boom in new national applications in the past few years, and has been taking steps to deal with the resulting backlog.
According to its recently published annual facts and figures, the UK IPO received 196,639 trade mark applications in 2021, a staggering 43.5% increase on 2020 and nearly three times the number received in 2016.
Meanwhile, the number of design applications has increased more than 1000% since 2015, reaching 72,157 in 2021. (This figure includes 9,353 international applications filed through the Hague Agreement, which the UK joined in 2018.)
Thankfully, the UK IPO has also increased the number of registrations of both trade marks and designs in 2021, after the number flattened in 2020. In fact, in May 2022 the UK IPO said it cleared its examination backlogs for all registered IP rights for the first time in several years.
In March 2021, the trade mark backlog stood at 32,185 applications and the examination process was taking 35 days. Applications are now being processed within the target of 10 days.
Other IP offices saw a growth in filings in 2021, though not on quite the same scale as the UK. The EUIPO received 197,948 EUTM applications, an increase of nearly 12%. The IP Office of Ireland also reported a 12% increase in filings from 2,370 in 2020 to 2,656 in 2021.
Rights of representation
The recent developments make it even more important to take any action necessary to ensure the protection of your rights, including timely renewal. Note that the renewal date for UK comparable trade mark rights is the same as that for the corresponding EUTM, so these are already starting to come up for renewal.
Under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, a UK address for service is not required for three years after the creation of comparable trade marks and re-registered designs.
However, that will change on 1 January 2024 when all owners of UK rights will need to have a UK (or Gibraltar or Channel Islands) address for new proceedings. These national representatives will receive official notifications from the UK IPO, including renewal reminders.
With trade mark professionals in both the UK and Ireland, Keltie is well placed to manage trade mark and design portfolios across the UK, Ireland and in the EU.
Our experienced teams of attorneys, paralegals and administrators can manage all your EU, UK and Irish rights, keeping you fully informed and ensuring no deadlines are missed.
Image credit to pmv chamara
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