UK ratifies the UPC Agreement

We have previously commented on the UK government’s intention to ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement, paving the way to a single European patent court for a single European patent, despite the outcome of the Brexit referendum. The UPC Agreement is defined below by the UKIPO:

The Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is an international treaty. The international court will have jurisdiction over patent disputes across its contracting states.

It will deliver a single judgement in cross-border disputes between private parties over patents granted under the current intergovernmental system.

The UK’s ratification has now been confirmed by Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Intellectual Property, in a statement made on Thursday 26 April, to coincide with World IP Day. 

Ratification by Germany is now the only outstanding requirement for the UPC Agreement to take effect. The German ratification is currently on hold, pending the outcome of a legal challenge, but there is some optimism that the UPC could now open as soon as early 2019, before the UK leaves the EU. 

A statement released by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) takes a very positive position on the UK’s continued involvement, suggesting that the UK will be able to play a full role in the UPC despite Brexit. CIPA also think that the decision is good news for UK businesses, with the UPC system offering a more simplified way to protect their intellectual property and enforce their rights across Europe.

The UK Intellectual Property Office is more reserved and suggests that the "UK's future relationship with the Unified Patent Court will be subject to negotiation with European partners as we leave the EU."

Nonetheless, the UK’s ratification of the agreement should be seen as a positive step, even if the extent of the UK's involvement in the UPC after Brexit is not yet clear.

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