-Martha Engel, Attorney

The British are leaving!  The British are leaving!  Many people on all sides of “the pond” last week watched the Brits’ vote to leave the European Union with interest, and were shocked when they actually voted to cut ties with the EU.  The vote was often referred to by the doomsday name BREXIT (cue terrifying music).  It’s like the Bennifer of political events.  If you don’t know much about the backstory leading up to the vote, John Oliver’s commentary on it is worth watching.

BREXIT not only had an immediate impact on stock markets and the political parties of Britain, but it is likely to have a lasting impact on the UK economy and on IP rights in Europe.  Currently, applicants seeking trademark protection in Europe can file a trademark application designating the entire EU for protection through the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).  Patent applicants can seek patent protection in Europe through the European Patent Office, but then currently have to go through a national phrase process where the application is then examined in the individual countries.  The EU was set to begin issuing European Unified Patents, much like the trademarks, but with the UK’s exit from the EU, many applicants may not seek to use this new system when it will not cover one of the major European countries.  IP attorneys will be keeping a watchful eye on changes in this area and how it may affect their clients’ protection and filing strategy in the region.

Naturally, when events like this take over the news cycle with a catchy name or slogan, the U.S. Trademark Office (USPTO) sees a spike in filings involving the name.  It takes 5-7 days before new applications are available in the USPTO’s search system, but currently there are three filings for BREXIT.  They were all filed on June 24, 2016.

  • A man in Chicago filed an intent-to-use application for BREXIT for “clothing, including t-shirts and hats”;
  • Quicksilver Scientific also filed an intent-to-use application for BREXIT for dietary and nutritional supplements; and
  • Samuel Adams’ parent company, Boston Beer Corporation, filed an intent-to-use application for BREXIT for “hard cider” but not for beer.

A Founding Father hawking a hard cider under the name BREXIT?  I’d try one.