UK to Ratify the UPC Agreement

December 12, 2016

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is a proposed new court which will be open to all participating member states of the European Union (EU). Once the new court opens, it will then be possible to obtain a European patent with “unitary effect” such that the European patent would cover all of the participating EU member states. A European patent with unitary effect is commonly referred to as a Unitary Patent.

For the UPC to come into existence, an agreement must be ratified by thirteen participating member states including the UK, Germany and France. Ratification has been ongoing for a number of years and all that now remains for the UPC to come into existence is for Germany and the UK to ratify the agreement.

Following the UK's vote to leave the EU (Brexit) there has been uncertainty as to whether the UK would ratify the UPC Agreement. Furthermore, whether the UK, as a territory, can fall under the jurisdiction of the UPC has been in doubt because this option is currently open only to EU member states.

In a move which has removed at least some of the uncertainty, the UK has announced that it intends to ratify the UPC Agreement and stated in a press release that:

The UK will continue with preparations for ratification over the coming months. It will be working with the Preparatory Committee to bring the UPC into operation as soon as possible.

It now seems likely that the UPC will come into existence by the end of 2017, meaning that the preparations which had been put on hold will now have to be re-started.

There still remains a question mark over whether the UK, as a territory, can fall under the jurisdiction of the UPC, but it seems likely that the UK will be hoping to negotiate an agreement which allows this.

Whatever happens, we as European patent attorneys will still be able to obtain European and Unitary Patents and, should the UPC come into effect, we will be able to represent our clients before the UPC.

Also, the process of obtaining a European patent remains unchanged. Should the UPC come into effect, only the process at grant will be different. A choice will need to be made between having multiple patents in multiple countries outside the jurisdiction of the UPC (just as now), or multiple patents in multiple countries but inside the jurisdiction of the UPC (a new option), or a Unitary Patent for multiple countries inside the jurisdiction of the UPC (a new option).

Our advisors at Swindell & Pearson would be happy to discuss with you the implications of the UPC to your business and provide advice tailored to your commercial needs.

Swindell & Pearson is a UK based intellectual property firm that has been helping businesses and individuals protect and defend their ideas, innovations and brands for over 130 years. With its head office in Derby, the firm also has offices in Stoke, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Sheffield and Burton upon Trent. To find out how Swindell & Pearson can help you and your business with any patent, trade mark or design right matters please get in touch via [email protected] or by telephone on 01332 367 051.