How will Brexit affect your trade mark portfolio?

The United Kingdom has entered into a Brexit transition period that will last until 31 December 2020. Here’s what will happen to your EU trade marks on 1 January 2021.

Registered EU trade marks will receive a comparable UK trade mark. The UK Intellectual Property Office will create a comparable UK trade mark for all right holders with an existing EU trade mark. This comparable trade mark will keep the original EU trade mark filing date and will be a fully independent UK trade mark that can be challenged, assigned, licensed or renewed separately from the original EU trade mark. The comparable trade mark will be created automatically and free of charge. The owner of the right will be notified and have the option to opt out.

Pending EU trade marks will cease to have effect in the UK. If your EU trade mark application is still pending after withdrawal of the UK from the EU, you will have to apply to register a comparable UK trade mark. The application must be submitted to the UK Intellectual Property Office within 9 months after 1 January 2021. That way, you will retain the earlier filing date and priority of the pending EU trade mark. However, your application will be subject to UK fees and must correspond to the pending EU trade mark.

Estonian farmers must now report using a variety of agricultural species

Most crop farmers use protected varieties of plant seeds that provide high yields, better resistance to pests and diseases and overall productivity and quality in agriculture. These varieties of plant seeds are the outcome of work by breeders who have been granted intellectual property rights to a plant variety.

By law, protected plant varieties are licensed to farmers when seeds are bought. However, plant breeders are also entitled to payment when farmers use seeds produced from these licensed seeds in large amounts. This fair fee must be significantly lower than the initial licence fee. Where plant variety breeders are not fairly compensated, they become less motivated to offer higher quality varieties to certain markets.

Starting from 2020, Estonia has introduced an obligation for farmers to report on whether a certified seed or propagating material or a seed produced for use in their own enterprise has been used and the area of arable land used for growing each variety. This information must be submitted to the Agricultural Board by 30 June every year. Where a farmer uses plant material obtained from the seed or propagating material of a plant species protected by plant variety rights in an area larger than 10 hectares, fair remuneration must be paid to the breeder.