The UK does not want to join the Unified Patent Court anyway

The UK has announced that it does not wish to participate in the Unified Patent Court (UPC) This will solve a number of problems but will at the same time create new ones.

The UK previously announced its intention to participate in the UPC and had also ratified the agreement to that effect, the so-called UPC Agreement. However, the agreement has not entered into force yet, as such entry into force has been awaiting, since 2017, the decision of a German constitutional law suit, as German ratification is necessary for the agreement to enter into force. The court is expected to make a decision this year. On the other hand, the same was suggested last year.

"I can confirm that the UK will not be seeking involvement in the UP/UPC system. Participating in a court that applies EU law and bound by the CJEU is inconsistent with our aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation", stated a spokesperson for the UK government to IAM, the IP news medium.

The UK's failure to participate will solve a number of EU constitutional problems that have been associated with the UPC agreement, as it implies, in the opinion of some, that only EU Member States can participate. When the UK does not participate, these problems disappear all at once.

On the other hand, the UK's withdrawal will entail that the UPC agreement must be changed. The UK is directly written into the agreement. Not least, it is mentioned in Article 7 of the agreement that the central division of the Court shall have a section in London, more specifically the section expected to deal with a large part of the important cases concerning medical patents. Accordingly, political agreement must as a minimum be reached as to where the London section is to be set up.

It is an important question whether the other participating countries will find it attractive to set up the system without the involvement of the UK. The UK is a large economy and an important patent nation. A system where a European patent court cannot make decisions with effect for the UK, and where the costs related to conducting legal proceedings in the UK can therefore not be saved, may be considered less attractive. In addition, the UK's failure to participate means that experienced British patent judges and oral hearing of cases will — other things being equal —  be a loss to the system.

The future of the system is therefore still uncertain, and it is not likely that it will enter into force this year. We will continue to follow developments and will report on any news of importance.

Read the news item from IAM:
"The UK will not be part of the UPC, government confirms to IAM"

Latest news on IP Law

IP Law