Brexit Proving Perplexing for Brand Owners - Nearly Half Have No Post-EU Trademark Filing Strategy, Hogan Lovells Survey Reveals

Meanwhile companies are giving themselves too little time for trademark clearance searches, say in-house counsel

Nearly half (48%) of brand owners do not have a clearly-defined trademark filing strategy for when Britain leaves the European Union, according to Brand Benchmarking 2017, from global law firm Hogan Lovells.

The survey of 200 brand owners in 12 industry sectors across Europe (including the UK), North America, and the Asia Pacific region, reveals that the 48% are simply unsure of the best course of action to take post the UK's Brexit referendum.

Lloyd Parker, Asia Pacific and Middle East Head of IP at Hogan Lovells, says it's unsurprising given current political uncertainty:

"It seems the Brexit referendum has left businesses perplexed when it comes to their trademark filing strategies. Given the uncertain and evolving political situation around Brexit, and now with a UK general election around the corner, it's unsurprising that many businesses are taking a 'wait and see' approach.Brand Benchmarking 2017 is the fourth annual survey from Hogan Lovells' global trademarks team. The survey also found that:

  • Over 90% of brand owners are experiencing misuse of their trademarks online. Of large portfolio owners, this includes:
    • More than three-quarters of North American respondents
    • More than two-thirds of European respondents
    • Less than one-quarter of Asia Pacific-based respondents – although this may in part be explained by less than 20% of those based in the Asia Pacific region regularly screening for online misuse of their trademarks, compared to over 50% of those based in Europe and North America.
  • Many brand owners are leaving themselves little time to carry out clearances and file trademark applications before product/services launch: 
    • Two thirds of brand owners conduct clearance searches less than three months before filing the related trademark
    • 40% of brand owners file a trademark application less than three months before a product/service launch, and 
    • Over half of respondents take five months or less between starting clearance searches and the launch of the related good or service
Lloyd Parker commented:

"Our survey reveals a worrying trend of companies giving themselves little time between starting trademark clearance searches and product launch. Nearly a quarter of respondents take two months or less, and over half take five months or less, which really is cutting it fine. In-house counsel have indicated to us that they would dearly like to have more time to adequately clear and apply for trademarks prior to launch but, unfortunately, the business reality is that they are not given that luxury."

The report further explores the impact of the UK's EU referendum on trademark filing strategies, revealing that for 26% of respondents, Brexit isn't having an effect on their trademark filing strategy: 14% say they have no interest in filing in the UK, while 12% say they are already filing UK applications.

But a quarter of respondents (25%, with a tendency towards Europe-based companies) have changed their trademark filing strategy as a result of the UK's decision to leave the EU, with the biggest change in the financial institutions sector, where 55% have started filing trademarks in the UK in addition to European trademarks (EUTMs). The technology, media & telecommunications and food & beverage sectors were 2nd and 3rd most proactive, at 38% and 31% respectively.

London partner Sahira Khwaja commented:

"Given the importance of London as a global financial center, financial institutions have been the most proactive of the 12 sectors we surveyed in choosing to start filing at least some trademarks in the UK in addition to their normal EUTM filings."

Companies can sign up to receive a copy here.

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