We have had quite a few enquiries recently from people who have just realised they’ve forgotten to renew their trade marks or registered designs.
Why is this happening all of a sudden?
In many cases the problem seems to be that records have not been properly updated after Brexit. Many businesses took advantage of the EU-wide registration system, obtaining EU trade marks and EU registered designs. When the UK left the EU, every single one of these EU rights in force at the end of the transition period (31st December 2020) was “cloned” onto the UK register.
So, the geographical extent of the EU right was retained, automatically and for free, by copying the registrations onto the UK register. However, with the UK no longer part of the EU, this was done by creating a legally-separate UK national registration and – you guessed it – when it expires it has to be renewed separately.
Registered designs last five years between renewals and trade marks last ten, so we may continue to see these “renewals missed because of Brexit” for some time yet.
The good news is that usually a missed renewal can be put right without too much cost or fuss, provided it is caught reasonably quickly.
If you are less than six months late, then the registration can just be renewed by paying a modest extra fee. If you are more than six months late but inside twelve months then you will have to pay another fee on top of that and also provide an explanation of why the renewal fee was not paid on time. However, the UKIPO won’t be judging you too much on why you failed to pay on time – the rule is that as long as the failure was unintentional the right will be restored.
If you have registered EU trade marks or designs in the past, now would be a good time to check your records and check you have a system in place for renewing the UK rights when the time comes.
If you need any assistance managing your portfolio or renewing lapsed rights, please just get in touch and we will provide you with help.
By Frederick Noble, British and European Patent Attorney at Albright IP
Pool Innovation Centre, Redruth, Cornwall TR15 3PL