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UPC – UK moves forward whilst Germany stalls

13 July 2017

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is intended to provide a regional forum resolve patent disputes. UPC decisions will have effect in all 25 states participating in the UPC, providing a single forum to resolve disputes.

In June 2017 the UPC announced that the original hope to have the UPC operational by the end of 2017 is no longer possible. This means that it will be at least 2018 before the UPC would be up and running. However, the implementation of the UPC has suffered a further set back with the news that the German Constitutional Court has received a complaint from a German citizen, causing the ratification of the UPC agreement by the German Parliament to be delayed, pending resolution of the complaint.

Before the agreement comes into force, the three countries with the highest number of European patents in force in 2012, of which Germany is one (and the UK another) must ratify the agreement. We don’t know how long this current delay will last, but it does raise the possibility of causing a significant delay to the entire process, which is already falling behind the original timetable.

Meanwhile, undeterred by Brexit or constitutional woes, the UK has ploughed ahead by notifying the EU that it has parliamentary approval to ratify the UPC Agreement. The notice comes after secondary legislation was published in June that would enable the UK to ratify the agreement and implement the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities that would give the UPC its legal personality in the UK. London is set to be a seat of a central division of the UPC, dealing with pharmaceutical and chemical patents, as well as the UK’s local division of the court.

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