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Surprising decision– UK plans to ratify Unified Patent Court Agreement

Common pessimistic expectations did not come true: Fortunately the results of the June 23 referendum did not derail the UK decision about the united EU patent system. On Monday, November 28 Baroness Neville Rolfe, the minister of state for intellectual property, made the announcement about the planned ratifying of UPC at a meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council. She noted: “… as long as we are members of the EU, the UK will continue to play a full and active role. We will seek the best deal possible as we negotiate a new agreement with the European Union...”[1]

The Agreement on the Unified Patent Court has a purpose to simplify the protection of patent rights across Europe by creation of the specialized patent court. This court will have exclusive jurisdiction for litigation relating to European patents. With a single patent and through a single patent court patent protection becomes less expensive and complicated for inventors. For example it will not be necessary to have a patent dispute in each EU country, which the patent right was violated in.

The EU began 2012 with the preparations for this important change to the European patent system. According to the agreement, ratification by UK, Germany, France and other 10 EU counties was an essential condition for the Unitary Patent Court to come into force. 11 countries including France have already ratified the UPC.[2] After the ratification in UK and Germany, the system is expected to be up and running in 2017.

How important this step is shows the amount of patents that are currently covering the UK area, especially from non-UK residential applicants: 1,039,000 European patents are valid also in UK in total, and there are more than 142,000 national UK patents that are currently valid in UK[3]. That shows the enormous meaning of a European harmonized IP regulation especially in terms of legal disputes.




[3] Data analysed for 2016-03-31 using Bureau van Dijk business and patent data

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