Brexit, Trademark Applications, and Brand Establishment 

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Brexit, Trademark Applications, and Brand Establishment 

On January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom formally left the European Union five years after the 2016 Brexit referendum. Clearly much has changed in the economies of all EU member states during that time, but were the political and economic shifts of the period also mirrored in the way which brands and IP professionals applied for new trademarks? In this short article, I use trademark search data for UK national trademark applications from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2020 to examine how UKIPO trademark activity changed during both the pre-Brexit and post-referendum years.  

Was there a substantial difference in the overall number made after the Brexit Referendum? What were the top international Classes, top product descriptions, and top filing countries during this period?  

How Do Pre-Brexit and Post-Referendum Trademark Data Differ?  

To perform this analysis of UK national trademark applications at the UKIPO, I considered all applications made over two five-year periods. First, I looked at those made between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2015, and then compared those applications with those made during the ‘Brexit years’, from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020.  

Perhaps the most interesting figure is the top line figure of total applications. What we see is that there was a 65% increase between the first period and the second. Although this was inevitably not just a consequence of Brexit, it is also likely that many trademark owners were adjusting their trademark strategies to reflect the possibility that the UK would leave the EU with no agreement on reciprocal rights for trademark owners and knew that having the UK national registration was imperative to extend/preserve their trademark rights to the UK. 

2011-2015 Trademark Data at the UKIPO  

From January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2015, there were over 270,000 trademark applications filed at the UKIPO.  

When looking at the top Nice Classes during this period, we see Class 35 Advertising and Business in first position with a ratio share of 10%, followed by Class 9 Electrical and Scientific Devices (9%), and Class 41 Education and Entertainment (8.9%).  

Top product descriptions during the pre–Brexit years were found in Class 35 Advertising, marketing, and promotional services (10.9%), Class 9 Software (10.2%), and Class 41 Educational services (9.4%).  

Unsurprisingly, the UK was the most common country of origin for trademark applicants (77.2%), followed by the U.S. (7%), and then Germany (2.1%).  

2016-2020 Trademark Data at the UKIPO  

When examining more recent data from January 1, 2016 until December 31, 2020, we can see that there were more than 445,000 applications filed in the UKIPO — an increase in volume of 65% in comparison to the previous five years.

Interestingly, despite the change in relationship between the UK and the EU, trademark applications, although increased in volume, had broadly the same makeup. The ranking order of the top three Nice Classes did not change from the first period, and their ratio share was almost identical. Class 35 Advertising and Business retained first position with a slightly diminished ratio share of 9.5%, followed by Class 9 Electrical and Scientific Devices (9.2%), and Class 41 Education and Entertainment (9%).  

Top product descriptions during the post-referendum years were found in Class 9 Software (10.3%), Class 35 Advertising, marketing and promotional services (10%), with Class 25 Clothing moving up the rankings to third position. Class 41 Educational services is listed in fourth place with a ratio share of 8.8%.  

The top owner countries list records the UK in first position (76.6%), again followed by the United States of America (6.9%) and China (6.5%). Germany is listed in fourth place with a 0.9% share of all trademark applications filed at the UKIPO.  

A Post-Brexit Future  

Wherever you are registering, watching, or protecting your trademarks and brands, Corsearch can support you with industry leading data and expert analysis that helps you to move forward with confidence. In addition to trademark screening and searches, we also offer comprehensive brand protection and content protection solutions capable of monitoring and enforcing trademarks and copyright protection globally.  

If you are interested in learning more about Brexit and the IP sector, please listen to the latest episode of our legal podcast, Talkin’ Marks — Brexit Briefing. The episode features an expert speaker, Chris McLeod, Chartered trademark attorney and Partner at Elkington and Fife, past President of CITMA, member of INTA, and an active member of Pharmaceutical Trademarks Group. 

Listen to TrademarkNow’s recent podcast episode on the impact Brexit may have on the IP market here!