Most Read Contributor in Netherlands, February 2017
British participation in setting up the Unified Patent Court has
been uncertain since the vote for Brexit in June 2016, but the UK
government recently confirmed that it is continuing to prepare for
ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement. This is welcome
news for all those who want to see a single European patent
Several EU countries are striving to set up a common specialised
patent court. This Unified Patent Court (UPC) will have competence
in respect of European patents and European patents with unitary
effect. UPC rulings will have effect in all states that have signed
and ratified the
Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). Holders of these types
of patents need only apply to one single patent court whose
jurisdiction extends to almost the entire EU single market. This
will be a huge change from the current system, which generally
requires litigation on a country-by-country basis.
The UPC will come into existence after the UPCA enters into
force. For this to happen, 13 of the 25 participating states must
have ratified the UPCA. The UPCA requires that the 13 states must
include the three EU countries with the highest number of European
patents in force in 2012 (Germany, the UK and France). Meanwhile,
11 participating states, including France and
the Netherlands, have signed and
ratified the UPCA, and
Germany is preparing for ratification as well.
The British government has now
confirmed that it is proceeding with preparations to ratify the
UPCA. This is a relief for the UPC initiative because British
involvement has been uncertain since the vote in favour of leaving
the EU. As the UK is one of the leading countries in the field of
patent litigation in Europe, having the UK on board will benefit
the quality of the UPC's rulings. Moreover, the UK joining the
UPCA means that the rulings will also have effect on British
territory, which is an important part of the European economic
UK's confirmation means that further delay due to Brexit may
be averted. The UPC can now go ahead and may – depending on
other factors such as ratification by Germany – be launched
at the end of
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The future of the European Unified Patent Court (UPC) appears to look a bit clearer following recent ratification activities. On 16 January 2017, the Preparatory Committee for the UPC announced on its website that it is working under the assumption that the UPC can become operational in December 2017.
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