29 November 2016
One of the last steps towards
the establishment of a single patent court for Europe, and with it the entire
unitary patent regime, was taken on 28 November 2016. The Agreement on the
Unified Patent Court (UPC) will be ratified by the United Kingdom, according to
a statement by UK Minister for IP, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, at the EU
Competitiveness Council in Brussels. Her clarification was welcomed by the
European Commission, the EU Member States and the EPO and many in the IP
community, following months of uncertainty after the UK voted to leave the EU
on 23 June 2016.
EPO President Benoît Battistelli said "This important news from the UK government means that the long-awaited court is soon to be realised. Users, especially SMEs, have been waiting for the creation of a simpler patent system for Europe, and their relief is palpable. The way is now clear for the last few ratifications to take place in the coming months, and the new court to start work soon after. The UPC will provide a single forum for all participating states delivering faster enforcement actions and harmonised judicial decisions."
The new Unitary Patent regime can come into effect only when at least thirteen member states have ratified the Agreement on the UPC, including France, Germany and the UK. To date, eleven have done so, including France, with ratification procedures well advanced in Germany, the UK and also in Italy, Slovenia and Lithuania. The EPO will grant Unitary Patents, making it easier to secure valuable patent rights in Europe, and provide significantly greater country coverage than is possible today for the same investment.