The UK has now deposited its instrument of ratification of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPCA) with the European Commission in Brussels, thereby completing the legal necessities for the UK to take part in the Court.
The UK became a signatory to the UPCA in February 2013 and, in November 2016, committed to ratification. For the Unified Patent Court to come into being, thirteen Member States must ratify the agreement; these include the UK, France and Germany. France already ratified in 2014. The equivalent process in Germany is being held up by a constitutional challenge through the German courts system.
The UK’s Minister for Intellectual Property, Sam Gyimah MP, who announced the UK’s ratification on 26 April 2018 (World IP Day), said:
The UK is overflowing with innovative businesses, with pockets of this innovation spread up and down the country. These businesses are the lifeblood of local economies by boosting income and creating jobs.
Ratification of this important Agreement demonstrates that internationally, as well as at home, the UK is committed to strong intellectual property protections. This will help to foster innovation and creativity, bringing our modern and ambitious Industrial Strategy to life.
It is believed that innovative businesses will benefit significantly from the Unified Patent Court, which will enable patent holders to assert their rights in certain patents covering EU states without having to do so before the court system of each state.
Although the new system requires a new, international court (the UPC), the new Unitary Patents will be administered through the existing European Patent Office (EPO), using similar processes to those presently followed for the granting of European Patents. However, Unitary Patents will cover only EU states, whereas European Patents can cover a wider selection of up to 38 countries.
President of the EPO, Mr Battistelli, said yesterday:
Today’s ratification by the UK brings us a decisive step closer to achieving the entry into force of the Unitary Patent. We are now within touching distance of a new patent for Europe that will support our innovation sector with simplified administration, reduced costs and greater legal certainty.
Stephen Jones, president of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), said that the decision would be good news for businesses. He also pointed out that the UK would be able to play a full role, despite Brexit, because the UPC would be an international court and not an EU institution. He said:
CIPA welcomes the UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement. The UPC has the potential to benefit businesses by streamlining the process of enforcing patents. CIPA believes that the UPC will be a better system with UK involvement.
The UK has well established regimes for enforcement of patents and judges who are respected in Europe and worldwide for their understanding of patent law.
The UK has been extensively involved in the discussions leading to the establishment of the UPC and CIPA has been pleased to play a part in that.
Fore more information about the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court, please visit our Resources Hub.