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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
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
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
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.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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