Despite Brexit, the United Kingdom Will Ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement

After the UK’s June 2016 Brexit vote, it seemed almost certain that London would not ratify the Unitary Patent Protection agreement (UPP) and, as a result, would not become one of the seats of the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Recently, in a move made unexpected by Brexit, the UK revealed that it plans to continue with the UPP/UPC. In a November 28, 2016 press release, the UK announced that “the UK will continue with preparations for ratification over the coming months. It will be working with the Preparatory Committee to bring the Unified Patent Court (UPC) into operation as soon as possible.”

The European Patent Convention is an international agreement independent of EU Law which presently includes 38 contracting states. European patents granted under the European Patent Convention are subsequently handled as national patents in the contracting states. The primary benefit of the UPP system is that a patent applicant can achieve unitary effect for a European patent in 25 EU Member States through a single request.

Litigation concerning these patents will be handled by the UPC, which includes courts located in the contracting states and thus part of their judicial system. The UPC will have jurisdiction over certain European patents and exclusive jurisdiction over European patents with unitary effect, subject to some exceptions during a transitional period.

The 25 Member States who signed the UPC agreement on February 19, 2013 agreed to a court system having Local and Regional Divisions along with a Central Division in 1st instance and a court of appeal in 2nd instance.

Originally, London was intended to become a seat of the Central Division (the Central Division also including seats located in Paris and Munich), as well as seat of a Local Division.

If the UK fails to ratify the UPC agreement, the agreement would have to be negotiated again.

The UPC agreement will enter into force if 13 member states, which must include France, Germany and the United Kingdom, have ratified the agreement. France has already ratified the agreement; once Germany and the UK do so, all conditions will be met and the UPC/UPP will enter into force. The German legislature has discussed ratification since June 2016. With the UK green lit, the legislation process in Germany might pick up speed.

Please contact one of RatnerPrestia’s German/EPO patent attorneys in our Munich office with questions or for more information.

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