STORMY TIMES AHEAD FOR UK BRAND OWNERS?

The situation and procedures affecting EU trademarks and other EU intellectual property rights post-Brexit are a concern for brand owners. Moreover, UK trademark professionals face a challenge as there is a danger that their ability to represent clients before the EUIPO may be lost after March 2019.

Representation of natural persons or companies before the EUIPO may be undertaken, for example, by a legal practitioner qualified in one of the member states of the EEA with their place of business within the EEA (and to the extent that they are entitled, within that member state, to represent clients in trademark matters).

UK-based trademark law firms are currently situated in the EU and are therefore entitled to act before the EUIPO. Unfortunately, the post-Brexit position is far from clear. Some are hoping for the best, others for a second referendum that might keep the UK in the EU; but an exit, with or without a deal, is a very real option.

The risk of the 'wait and see' approach

Schiedsverfahren sind der staatlichen Gerichtsbarkeit gleichwertige Streiterledigungsverfahren, deren Regeln die Parteien weitgehend selbst „maßschneidern“ können und an deren Ende ein verbindliches Urteil steht. Bekannte Beispiele für institutionelle Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit sind Deutsche Institution für Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit (DIS) http://www.disarb.org, The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) http://www.lcia.org oder International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) https://iccwbo.org.

In Deutschland ist die Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit in den §§ 1025 ff. Zivilprozessordnung https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/zpo/ geregelt, in England in Arbitration Act 1996 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/23/contents.

Ein Drittel aller gesellschaftsrechtlichen Streitigkeiten in Deutschland sind Schiedsverfahren. Generell erfreuen sich Schiedsverfahren in bestimmten Rechtsbereichen zunehmender Beliebtheit, aus Gründen, die nachstehend überblickartig dargestellt werden.

Zu den Vorteilen der Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit zählen:

Although there is a strong lack of clarity around Brexit, the owners of valuable brands and practitioners still need to ensure that the flow of services remains uninterrupted no matter what the situation is on 29 March 2019.

Some practitioners are adopting a quite risky 'wait and see' approach. While this stance avoids running up costs and wasting valuable time, it has a major drawback that if the Brexit outcome crystallizes last-minute and there is only a very short period of continued UK representation available, post-March 2019 they may become unable to service their clients’ EUIPO needs. Even if there is some transitional period, the scramble for staff and agency arrangements might result in high costs and other problems (e.g. finding reliable partners).

Alternatives

Those practitioners that already have an office in the EEA (outside the UK) are in a very good position to service their clients. However, for many practitioners this is not a viable option due to financial reasons.

Some UK law firms are putting arrangements in place with other firms in the EEA (non-UK). Others are appointing EEA law firms to handle their EUIPO issues under an agency arrangement.

Although it is not straightforward to make preparations in a situation like Brexit, there are also real dangers in the 'wait and see' stance as we approach March 2019.