Brexit escalates the war on trademarks

Trademark application disputes have risen to record levels since Brexit, according to a study by law firm Statistics.

The number of opposition to UK trademark applications more than doubled from 3,584 in 2020 to 8,026, Mathis & Square, the intellectual property law firm, said.

The UK left the EU trademark system in January last year, which means any business wishing to protect a trademark must now apply separately. Mathis & Square said it was “in a hurry” to submit the petition, and as a result, the number of opponents submitted increased.

Recent controversies include McDonald’s opposition to McVegan’s trademark registration application in the UK, which has won three fast-food chains, and Shine TV, the producer of the BBC’s Masterchef series, has successfully applied for trademarks, including the Master Chef Academy for Education.

Official figures show a record number of 195,000 applications in the year from October, up 54 percent from the previous year.

The “significant” increase in trademark applications has led to a long backlog in the intellectual property office, which is run by government agencies, and increased the average test response time for customers from five to fifteen days to three months, the office’s annual report showed. It says it has returned to the previous level.

To help meet the demand, the office has hired 259 new members, including trademark examiners, patent examiners and IT specialists.

“This response time is planned to be reduced by 2021-22 with the aim of achieving normal service levels by the end of the year,” the office said in its latest annual report.

Trademark disputes, also known as trademark disputes, occur when a business files an application in the office and another person or business tries to block it. The office will then determine whether it should be denied on the basis of previous right or on any other basis such as bad faith.

Harry Rowe, managing associate at Mathis & Square, said: “This is probably not a short-term spike in conflict, but trademark protection in the UK is going to be that way now.

“Brexit has opened up a whole new battlefield for valuable brand businesses to protect. Before Brexit, trademark owners could protect their trademarks across all EU member states in one application. Now that the UK is no longer covered by an EU trademark, trademark owners must file two separate applications for the same protection. “

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