18 January 2022

Brexit triggers record 195,000 trade mark applications – up 54% in a year – as businesses rush to protect IP

Data provided by Mathys & Squire has featured in an article by City A.M. highlighting a surge in trade mark applications following Brexit, which has in turn increased the wait time for trade mark application approval. Click here to read the article in City A.M.

An extended version of the release is available below, and has been published by World Trademark Review, GB News, Irish Legal News, Scottish Legal News, Institute of Export & International Trade and The Scotsman.

Brexit has triggered a record number of applications for trade marks in the UK, with 195,000 registered in the past year*, up 54% from 127,000 the year before, says leading intellectual property law firm Mathys & Squire.

Since 1 January 2021, the UK is no longer part of the European trade mark regime, meaning that any business looking to trade mark a brand or logo across Europe now has to make a separate application in the UK.

Prior to 1 January 2021, UK trade mark owners could file a single EU trade mark application and secure pan-European protection. Since the end of the Brexit transition period, two separate applications (one for the UK and one for the EU) have been necessary.

The huge surge in trade mark applications since Brexit has forced the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) – the Government agency that handles trade marks, patents and design registrations – to recruit more than 100 new staff to clear the backlog. Waiting times for trade mark applications reached three to four months in the early part of 2021, up from the usual wait of around a couple of weeks.

The IPO has also been inundated by applications from overseas trade mark holders to register with a UK trade mark attorney and address for service in the UK, which is now required post-Brexit.

Mathys & Squire points out that the UK’s departure from the European trade mark regime is permanent, meaning that the sharply increased number of applications represents the ‘new normal’ rather than a spike in activity.

Gary Johnston, Partner and Co-Head of Trade Marks at Mathys & Squire, comments: “The Brexit-fuelled rush to file trade marks and appoint UK attorneys in 2021 has been unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the UK.”

“Businesses from around the world have been forced to spend much more time and money on protecting their intellectual property separately in the UK. UK businesses have had exactly the same problem with their European IP. We’ve been tremendously busy filing applications for UK businesses in Europe too.”

“This huge volume of filings is unlikely to go away. Now we have left the European trade mark regime, this is the level of activity we can expect in the future.”

* Year end 31 October 2021 | Source: IPO