Breaking Brexit – The Unified Patent Court To Proceed With Ratification By The UK

28 Nov 2016

In an intellectual property related Brexit twist the UK government has unexpectedly announced that it is proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement.


The UPC Agreement is the culmination of the harmonisation of EU patent law and enforcement procedures.  Prior to the Brexit vote EU Member States had been preparing the launch of the UPC and with it the creation of a single unitary patent which would be protectable and enforceable in all EU Member States which are signatories to the UPC Agreement.


In light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU following the referendum, it was uncertain as to whether the UK would proceed with ratifying the UPC Agreement as the system, as it currently stands, is not open to countries outside of the EU and, controversially, it is subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).


In light of the Brexit vote and the controversial jurisdiction of the CJEU there have been calls from some quarters of the IP community in the UK for the government to use ratification of the UPC Agreement as one of its bargaining chips in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.  Notwithstanding this, the government has ignored these calls and announced that it will be working to bring the UPC into operation as soon as possible.


The UPC is to have a specialist section of its Central Division based in the Aldgate Tower in London dealing with patent cases concerning chemistry, including pharmaceuticals and the life sciences and the court rooms for these hearings have already been built.

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