In a move that has surprised many, the UK government has
announced that it is pressing ahead with its preparations to ratify
the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA).
The UPCA is an agreement between most of the European Union
member states to establish a single patent right covering those
member states (the Unitary Patent, UP), and a new, centralized
court (the Unified Patent Court, UPC) ,which will eventually have
sole jurisdiction to decide on disputes arising from both Unitary
Patents and European patents in those member states. One of the
branches of the Central Division of the UPC is to be located in
London, handling most cases relating to the validity of patents in
the life sciences and chemistry areas.
The UPCA has been in limbo since the result of the UK's
referendum in June, stating that the UK should leave the European
Union ("Brexit"). The UPCA requires ratification by at
least 13 participating member states (11 have ratified to date),
including France (which has already ratified), Germany, and the UK
in order to come into force. Many had assumed that in view of the
referendum result, the UK government would be unwilling to proceed
with ratification of the UPCA.
The new announcement from the UK Minister of State for
Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville Rolfe can be found here. It explains that the UK will continue
with its preparations to ratify the Agreement over the coming
months and will be working with the Preparatory Committee to bring
the UPC into operation as soon as possible.
Questions still remain over the UK's continuing role in the
UPC and Unitary Patent systems when the UK leaves the EU. This
announcement, however, indicates the UK's willingness to
participate in the system, and if the UK does proceed with
ratification as indicated, and Germany also proceeds with
ratification, then the UPC and Unitary Patent could come into
effect as early as mid-2017.
For further information about the UPC and Unitary Patent, please
visit the dedicated area of our website here.
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