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30-11-2016 » United Kingdom to ratify the UPC Agreement

Despite the result of the June referendum on the UK leaving the European Union, at yesterday’s meeting of the EU’s Competitivity Council the UK minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, announced that the UK government intends to ratify the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC-A).

On the same day Mr James Porter, Deputy Director of the UKIPO, told a meeting in Bristol, UK that it was expected that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) would begin operation in the middle of 2017.

For the UPC-A to enter into force ratification is required by 13 states including, obligatorily, France, the UK and Germany. To date, 11 states(1) have ratified the UPC-A, including France. Accordingly, ratification by the UK and Germany would trigger operation of the UPC.

While the ratification procedure was already well advanced in Germany, this procedure had been suspended after the BREXIT vote. With the upcoming ratification by the UK, it is assumed that Germany would resume the procedure rapidly.

However, some questions remain about whether the legal framework of the UPC will require adjustment in order to allow the UK to continue to participate after departure from the European Union.  Some commentators have gone so far as to suggest that the German government might postpone ratification until these legal questions are settled.

(1) The following states have ratified the UPC-A: Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Malta, Luxemburg, Portugal, Finland, Bulgaria and Netherlands

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