Beyond Brexit – how the UKIPO has fared

For some Brexit might seem like a distant memory. It was something that featured in our vocabulary on a daily basis from the referendum in June 2016 right up until the UK left the European Union on 31 December 2020 but then COVID came along. Brexit, for many, took a back seat.

But the effects of Brexit have of course impacted heavily on the UK economy and those individuals and businesses who depend on trade with the EU as their bread and butter.

Of course, the impact that Brexit has had on the UK and EU economy is yet to be fully felt as it is too early to tell. However, confusion over freight documentation and transport delays across the borders has meant Brexit for some is still very close to home.

Whilst there were delays at the ports and containers standing empty waiting for goods to arrive, the situation at the UKIPO couldn’t have been more different. Though trade itself was being stalled due to the teething troubles resulting from the aftermath of Brexit the interest in UK trademark filing was suddenly booming.

When the UK left the EU after the transition period was over, i.e. on 1 January 2021 the regulations governing UK trademarks and designs changed dramatically.

Whereas, before Brexit a European trademark registration or design registration protected your mark across all EU countries including the UK, after Brexit the UK was not covered.

This has inevitably led to an uplift in UK trademark and design filings, as the UK has often been a key market of interest for anyone filing an EU application.

Statistics just released by the UKIPO reveal that the offices received over 13500 UK trademark applications in January this year compared to around 8000 in January 2020. UK design applications rose to over 4000 in January this year from around 1750 in January 2020. 

Anyone applying to file a design application at the UKIPO can expect to wait at least 8 weeks before they receive an examination report, and the UKIPO now anticipates issuing trademark examination reports up to six weeks from filing (compared to around two weeks from filing in early 2020).

With unusually high volumes of applications across all areas of intellectual property the UKIPO have had to recruit a new team of patent and trademark examiners to deal with the extra work in their field.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there was a drop of over 40% in UK goods exported to the EU in January this year. With countries trying to adapt to new trading rules, and everyone coping with the effects of the pandemic it is clear that the current picture has room for improvement.

However, with the obvious demand from overseas for more UK trademarks and design registrations it looks like it will take a lot more than a few transport hiccups and a persistent virus to stamp out the wish of international companies to trade with the UK.