UK Ratifies Unified Patent Court Agreement

Unified Patent Court – Key Step Forward

What’s just happened?
The UK government yesterday announced its ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement – the UPC Agreement for short.  Read the report of the announcement here.

What happens next?
The UPC Agreement requires ratification by UK, Germany and France.  Until that happens, it can’t come into effect.  The UK and France have now ratified.  Germany has not yet ratified whilst it deals with an internal constitutional obstacle.  This is scheduled for hearing by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, with a decision likely in H1-2018.  Most opinion is that the constitutional challenge won’t succeed.

Just how significant is this week’s news?
Ratification of the agreement by the UK represents a major step in a grand legislative plan.  A ratified UPC Agreement would enable businesses to conduct patent litigation in a single court.  Its decisions would have multi-lateral effect across the financial core of Europe.  Based on the IMF’s 2018 estimates, the block of 16 countries which have so far ratified the UPC Agreement, plus Germany, have a combined GDP of over $16 trillion.

Exactly where will the Unified Patent Court be located?
Under the UPC Agreement, the Unified Patent Court’s first instance central division would have a section in each of Paris, London and Munich.  The London Unified Court (see map and court entrance), already physically set up in Aldgate Tower at the edge of the City financial district, would deal with cases relating to chemistry, pharmaceuticals and life science.

How does Brexit affect this?
Brexit is not relevant because the Unified Patent Court Agreement is international legislation (not EU legislation) and the Unified Patent Court will not be an EU organ.

What is the main take-away?
There are still quite a lot of moving parts.  However, the main players are acting as if it’s a done deal, with principle physical court accommodations already pretty much set up.  As and when the court opens for business, it will revolutionize IP litigation in  Europe.  Expect surprises.

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