Brexit trade mark warning


A leading intellectual property lawyer has warned that EU trade mark and design owners – of which there are many in Cornwall – must act now to ensure that their intellectual property is protected once the UK leaves the EU.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has issued a notice to holders of EU trade marks, stating that unless there is an agreement to the contrary, after Brexit, EU trade marks and designs will no longer cover the UK.

Ben Travers, partner and head of intellectual property and IT at Stephens Scown LLP, said: “This is a stark reminder that without an agreement, holders of EU trade marks will be left unprotected in the UK after Brexit. At the moment, there is no agreement to the contrary.

“This means that owners of registered EU trade marks and designs who are worried about protection in the EU should file a UK application as soon as possible or risk their intellectual property being open to exploitation by others.”

Travers added: “The reason this matters so much is because trade mark registrations for key products and services are essential for high growth businesses. Securing a trade mark results in one of the most powerful rights a business can buy – a legal monopoly over the badge of origin that separates one business from another.

“It is a valuable way to protect a business’s hard won reputation. Of course, in due course transitional provisions may be implemented but why take the risk that your control over your reputation could be lost, when taking simple steps now will avoid the issue.”

Stephens Scown, which has offices in Exeter, St Austell and Truro, has filed trade marks for clients in a range of sectors including food and drink, leisure, fashion, consumer goods and technology. The firm acts for clients including St Austell Brewery, Arden F3 motorsport, Exeter University and Thatchers.


  1. As a trade mark attorney with over 20 years’ experience, I felt that I had to write to correct the statements in this article. As with all thing “Brexit”, whilst we do not yet know what protection there will be for EUTM holders in the UK, we do know that they will not be left “unprotected”. This is scare-mongering. In conjunction with UK Trade Mark attorneys and the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the UK Intellectual Property Office has considered all possible alternatives for EUTM holders and is working with all the relevant parties to ensure that protection is not lost. To say otherwise is incorrect. There are actions that EU Trade Mark holders can take to put themselves in a better position and we are advising companies and individuals on this on a daily basis.

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