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UK proceeding with UPC (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)

07 February 2017

The UK government announced that it will proceed with the Unitary Patent and the Unitary Patent Court (“UPC”). This ends months of speculation in the patent community as to what would happen afterthe Brexit vote last June. The UK was a mandatory signatory to the UPC Agreement and there had been concern that the project would stall in light of the UK’s European exit. Only Germany is left to ratify the Agreement and it is expected that the UPC will open in December this year.

The Unitary Patent will allow inventors and businesses to register a single patent that has protection across Europe (similar to how the EUTM works for trade marks). The UPC will have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to Unitary Patents and its judgments will have effect in all territories of contracting European member states.

The move is in keeping with the UK IPO’s position which has been that for intellectual property in the UK, it is business as usual until the UK is officially out of Europe. Generally the move to ratify the UPC in the UK has been welcomed by commentators in Europe, though it is of note that there have been no comments as to the UK’s long term participation in the UPC. Currently, the legislation only provides for European member states to participate in the regime. Indeed, Baroness Neville Rolfe was keen to point out in the announcement regarding the ratification that “the decision to proceed with ratification should not be seen as pre-empting the UK’s objectives or position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU.”

Watch this space for further developments.

This article was first published in the Brands & IP newsnotes publication - issue 4

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