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Bits ‘n Bobs: UK Unitary Patent News

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GB+EU flagA Unified Patent Court (UPC) stakeholder group for legal professionals meeting was held in the UK this week and there was some interesting unitary patent/UPC news.

  • The timetable for the unitary patent system to “go live” appears to be slipping. Remember that when the regulations and UPC agreement were being finalised it was the desire of the European Commission to see the first unitary patent grant in Spring 2014. However, we now understand that the UK is unlikely to be in a position to ratify the agreement until mid 2015. Following the 13th state to ratify the UPC Agreement, the system will come into being 4 months later. So, on the basis of the current UK timetable, the earliest the unitary patent system will come into effect is late 2015/early 2016. [That’s assuming that 12 other states have already ratified by this point]
  • It is interesting to note that the above timescale puts UK ratification slap bang in the middle of the Scottish Referendum, the UK’s “In/Out [Hokey Cokey]” Referendum and the results of Spain’s latest challenge to the untiary patent system. Somewhere in all of this the UK will have a General Election as well. Further slippage of the UK end of things therefore seems likely.
  • In news that the IP Federation will no doubt be happy with, there will be a financial assessment and we will need to be happy with the results of this before we ratify.
  • The recently announced Intellectual Property Bill is just the start of the UK ratification process and secondary legislation in the form of a Statutory Instrument wil be required. This SI is not yet drafted and will probably not make it in front of the House of Commons and House of Lords until summer 2014. Formal ratification would be expected Spring/Summer 2015.
  • The Patents Act 1977 will need amendment but it is presently thought that no other Acts will required amendment.
  • The UK appears to be entitled to up to four Local Divisions.

Mark Richardson  17 May 2013

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