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UK UPC Ratification Progress

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GB+EU flagThe draft “The Patents (European Patent with Unitary Effect and Unified Patent Court) Order 2016” made its way through debate and approval in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords recently. This gets the UK that little bit closer to being in a position to ratify the UPC Agreement*.

IPcopy wondered whether the possibility of Brexit might slow the process down but feedback that we’ve received from the UKIPO suggests that the UK still expects to be ready in time for the Court’s opening in early 2017. In public therefore the party line is most definitely that Brexit won’t happen and we will carry on under that basis.

The transcripts of the debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords are an entertaining read though they do contain a couple of sections that might raise the odd eyebrow.

In the House of Commons debate, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy (Edward Vaizey) stated that the court fees for the UPC would range from 100 Euros to  300,000 Euros for the highest value cases.

As well as misquoting the top value based fee (it is 325,000 Euros in the latest proposal from the Preparatory Committee), IPcopy notes that the Minister has merged different fee classes together here. The fixed fees for starting an infringement action (or lodging a counterclaim for invalidity) are 11,000 Euros which obviously doesn’t sound half as reasonable as a fee of 100 Euros!

So where does the 100 Euro fee come from? It’s for an application to prolong the period of a protective letter kept on the register!

The other interesting comment was around the impact of Brexit where the Minister suggested that “if we left Europe as a result of the referendum, I suspect it would be a decision for the UK Government whether they wanted to rejoin the European patent court. Of couse, we would have to rely on our European partners to decide whether the UK could be a member“. Of course, if the UK does leave the EU it will not be possible for the UK to take part in the unitary patent system. As noted in the UPC Agreement itself “‘Member State’ means a Member State of the European Union”.

Mark Richardson 15 March 2016

*The above Statutory Instrument (SI) is not the only SI that the UK needs to push through however and the IPO also confirmed that an SI relating to the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities will also be needed.

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