UK ratifies Unified Patent Court agreement

The UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. Intellectual Property Minister, Sam Gyimah, made the announcement on April 26th, World IP Day.

The plans for a single European patent court have been years in the making and now only ratification by Germany is necessary for the court to come into existence.

The UPC system will provide businesses with the option of a way to protect their intellectual property and to enforce their rights across Europe that is much simpler than currently exists.

CIPA President Stephen Jones said the decision would be good news for businesses. He also said that the UK would be able to play a full role, despite Brexit, because the UPC will be an international court and not an EU institution.

He said: “CIPA welcomes the UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement. The UPC has the potential to benefit businesses by streamlining the process of enforcing patents. CIPA believes that the UPC will be a better system with UK involvement. 

"The UK has well established regimes for enforcement of patents and judges who are respected in Europe and worldwide for their understanding of patent law. 

"The UK has been extensively involved in the discussions leading to the establishment of the UPC and CIPA has been pleased to play a part in that. 

"The UPC Agreement is not an EU instrument so it is an initiative in which the UK is able to play a full part despite Brexit. It is a good example of international cooperation which is consistent with the UK moving forward as an innovation led economy.”

The court’s central division will have its seat in Paris with specialist sub-divisions in London (to hear pharmaceutical and life science cases) and Munich (mechanical engineering cases).

Currently, it is possible to file a European patent application at the European Patent Office (EPO), another non-EU organisation. If granted, this becomes a bundle of national patents validated and enforced in each country where protection was requested. When the Unitary Patent comes into force, businesses will be able to choose whether their European patent application becomes a bundle of national patents or becomes a unitary patent, which can be enforced in a single action before the Unified Patent Court.

UK-based European Patent Attorneys will continue their work at the EPO unaffected by Brexit.