On 26 April, the UK formally presented its ratification of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC) – the international agreement to set up a Unified Patent Court for Europe – to the European Commission in Brussels. This brings us closer to having a Court that can preside over patent disputes across Europe. 

It signifies the UK’s willingness to continue to be engaged with European wide regulation – in this field at least – post Brexit. London will act as HQ to one of the most important divisions of the new UPC – dealing with patents in pharmaceuticals and life sciences. 

The system – administered by the European Patent Office – will enable inventors to protect their inventions by having just a single patent across the EU. It’ll be less expensive and time consuming than the current procedure, where patents must be registered and enforced in each individual country.

The UPC doesn’t extend automatically to every EU country, but only to the 25 countries who have signed up to it.  One final hurdle to its effective ratification remains: Germany.  Germany’s ratification is on hold due to a complex constitutional complaint made against the UPC, which is currently pending in the German Courts.  If the German Court dismisses the complaint by the summer, it is likely that the first stages of the UPC could come into force shortly afterwards. Then, final preparations could be completed in time for the UPC to open in early 2019 (or at least pre-Brexit).

Speaking about the UK’s ratification, Intellectual Property Minister Sam Gyimah MP stated:

“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.”

If you have any questions or would like to talk about your Intellectual Property, get in touch with our IP lawyers today.