June 2016 News

Brexit facts on trademarks and the 6 figure issue of Jose’s trademark

Welcome to the June issue of the Downing IP newsletter.

The EU referendum on the 23rd June is looming and where much of the discussion has been around migrants and the economy; how will it affect trademarks, copyright and patents?

There has been some scare mongering from both the Brexit and Remain camps, and much written on the implications and ramifications on trademarks and patents; some based on truth and some on assumptions. So to provide clarity we have gathered the key facts for you.


This is the easiest part to clarify, we are a member of the European Patent Office (EPO) that is not an EU body, so if the UK decides to exit the EU, our membership will continue and the process for obtaining patents across the continent of Europe will not change.  We will join the other EPO member states who are not EU states – e.g. Switzerland, Norway, Monaco and Turkey. 

How will we stand enforcing patents?

This will stay as it is, however there is a future plan to introduce a ‘Unified Patent Court’, which will be the single patent court covering most of the EU states and UK (if we remain).

The benefit is that one court will agree on a dispute across the whole of the court’s territory, rather than tackling disputes in each country.  There is much conjecture over whether this court will be too large, expensive, and unwieldy to use thus favouring larger companies rather than SME’s.

If we leave the EU, the court will have no jurisdiction in the UK, so things will stay as they are.

This is where it gets a little more complex, if the UK leave there will have to be some changes. At the present time there is a parallel system of national trade mark registrations and central EU trademark registrations. The central registration has an effect on the UK but this will no longer be the case if the UK leave, and in this case it is likely there will be period of time where owners of central EU registrations can re-register their marks in the UK National Registrations.

Brexit could also enable the UK Trade Marks Registry to reverse some changes to the UK trademark law that were made necessary by EU membership. For example, to bring back pre-registration checks to ensure a mark isn’t already owned by someone else, rather than putting the onus on the earlier owner to look out for conflicting applications and incur costs opposing them. 

How does this affect EU trade marks?

If your business requires an EU-wide trade mark, then the existing system will still be available as it is open to applicants from any country.  You may need to file a UK trade mark application as well, though.

Hopefully these facts have provided clarity on some of the issues raised in the EU debate, but do feel free to contact me to discuss your issue and how to best protect your trademarks and patents
And finally…

The recent signing of Jose Mourinho as Manchester United Manger unearthed the complex web of trademarks.  Although unusual for an individual not to trademark his own name, Jose had allowed Chelsea to trademark his name in 2005, with a 20 year term to use his name on toiletries, clothing, jewellery and technology.

The club didn’t object when he went to manage Real Madrid and Inter Milan, however Chelsea haven’t taken kindly to Jose’s move to Manchester United and there are rumours of a 6 figure settlement figure to release the trademark.

The question is, will Manchester United take on the trademark, or will Jose reclaim his name?
Have a good month and do get in touch with any trademark, copyright or patent queries.

You can contact us on 01494 422626.

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