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The Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent

Navigating the new EU patent system

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The UK ratifies the Unified Patent Court Agreement on World IP Day

The UK has ratified the UPC Agreement. The UK IP Minister announced the ratification at a World IP Day event at the House of Commons on 26 April 2018.

It seems that the UK Government has listened to the many representative groups in the Patent arena who suggested that being part of the new system prior to Brexit was preferable to trying to join it post-Brexit. Now we need to wait to see if the German constitutional challenges can be resolved before the end of March next year. 

The UK, along with France and Germany, is one of three signatory states which must ratify before the Agreement can come into force. France ratified long ago (2014), so German ratification is all that is now needed. Ratification by Germany has been held up by challenges to the legislation which was passed to allow Germany to ratify in both the Bundestag and the German Constitutional Court. Neither has yet been resolved. 

15 other countries have already ratified the UPC Agreement. Once Germany ratifies, the Agreement will come into force on the first day of the fourth month after the month of that last required ratification. Assuming the constitutional challenges fail, German ratification will likely be timed to coordinate with the new Unitary Patent Court being ready to operate. Once in effect, the UPC court will operate across all current EU states except Croatia, Poland and Spain which have not signed up to the Agreement. A European patent with unitary effect (otherwise known as a unitary patent) will be available, covering all the participating states, once the UPC is established. Unitary patents will be enforced through the UPC which will also have jurisdiction over European patents which have not been opted out of the new system.

For more on the UPC Agreement including the other states which have ratified already see the UPC Agreement section of our UPC hub (www.hsf.com/upc).

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The Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the Unitary Patent (UP)

Plans for a 1 December 2017 start date for the UPC (and UP) have now been withdrawn by the UPC Preparatory Committee with no further date set as yet. A mid 2018 start date would appear to be a reasonable estimate depending on further ratifications.

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