Trademark disputes double following the UK's exit from the European Union, research shows

Mon 23 May 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The number of UK trademark disputes has soared due to a surge of UK applications following Brexit.

After the UK left the EU’s trademark system in January 2021, businesses had to register their copyright separately with British authorities to protect intellectual property (IP) in the UK.

The number of trademark disputes in the UK more than doubled from 3,584 in 2020 to 8,026 in 2021, according to research from IP law firm Mathys & Squire, reports City AM.

IPO backlog

The Times reports a “significant” increase in trademark applications resulted in a lengthening backlog at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the government agency that handles them.

Applications for registration with the IPO were up 54%, from 127,000 in 2019/20 to 195,000 in 2020/21.

The average examination feedback turnaround time for customers increased from five to fifteen days to up to three months, the IPO annual report showed, although it has since returned to the previous level.

To help to deal with the demand, the office appointed 259 new members of staff, including trademark examiners, patent examiners and IT specialists.

Harry Rowe, managing associate at Mathys & Squire, said the spike in disputes around trademark protection was unlikely to be short term.

Separate applications

“Prior to Brexit, trademark owners could protect their trademark across all the EU member states in one application. Now that the UK is no longer covered in an EU trademark, trademark owners must file two separate applications in order to achieve the same protection,” he said.

As covered in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update, regulators are struggling to fill posts as their post-Brexit roles have expanded.