UK ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement

On World Intellectual Property Day 2018, the Intellectual Property Minister Sam Gyimah, announced that the UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement, an international agreement that will enforce “unitary patents” across EU member states.

The announcement came following an event at the House of Commons which was held by the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN).

The new simplified patent system allows inventors to defend their rights using a single legal system, harmonising national infringement laws in the process. The new process will also be less expensive and time consuming, as currently, European patents have to be registered and enforced in individual countries. European patents will still be examined and granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), as the organisation is not affiliated with the EU.

However, there will be some delays in putting the system in place, as German ratification is still needed. They are one of three key member states, alongside the UK and France (previously ratified), yet to agree to the new system following a constitutional complaint lodged against implementing the new system.

What does this mean for the UK after Brexit?

The UK announced in November 2016, that it would ratify the UPC agreement, however there was concern over when this would happen and if it would take place before Brexit in March 2019.

Whilst this new ruling has gone ahead, negotiations will need to take place to decide on the UK’s position within the UPC agreement as participation in the UPC is limited to EU member states. Alexander Ramsay of Sweden, who chairs the UPC Preparatory Committee, said: “Some of the wording of the agreement will have to be amended after the UK leaves the EU but I would very much like Britain to participate in the UPC in the long term. The whole of Europe will benefit from the system having the broadest possible geographical coverage.”

The UPC system has been under development for some years now and is expected to be a significant boost to the UK IP industry.


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