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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: the UK withdraws from the Unitary Patent project
On 20 July 2020 the UK made a statement in Parliament that it had withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. As noted on the Unified Patent Court website the UK also deposited a withdrawal notification with the Council Secretariat. The UPC Preparatory Committee has stated it will now discuss the consequences of the UK withdrawal and agree a way forward.
Given the UK Government’s view of the CJEU, the statement doesn’t come as a huge surprise though it will presumably be a disappointment for those UPC supporters who were holding out hope that the UK and the other participants would work out some way for the UK to stay in the system.
The UK’s withdrawal from the UPC is, of course, not the only issue to hit the unified patent court project this year as the German Constitutional Court found that the German ratification legislation was unconstitutional.
What comes next for the unitary patent project is unclear. While the system still has its supporters who continue to say that the system could go live as early as [Readers should insert today’s date plus 6-12 months] there are a number of matters that are unclear, namely:
- Is the UK’s withdrawal notification sufficient? The UPC Agreement does not have any withdrawal provisions but the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties does provide mechanisms for withdrawal from treaties with no withdrawal provisions. Whether the UK’s withdrawal is currently effective may be unclear however and may require amendment of the Protocol to the Agreement on the UPC on provisional application.
- Where will the London seat of the Central Division be relocated to? Although the provision governing when the UPC Agreement comes into effect does not mention the UK (see Article 89 UPCA), Article 7 which relates to the Court of First Instance does explicitly mention the UK and Annex II to the Agreement details the technical split in cases between London, Paris and Munich. Will the UPC Agreement require amendment to remove the references to London and, if not, will other interested countries (e.g. the Netherlands, Italy) be happy for the system to come into effect without first dealing with this issue?
- How attractive will the unitary patent system without the UK be for applicants? Also, will the renewal fees for the Unitary Patent need revising in light of the UK’s departure?
The UK announcement is the latest in a line of setbacks for the system. IPcopy remembers the pan-European Intellectual Property Summit way back in December 2012 where the keynote speech suggested that all the stops would be pulled out in order to allow the first unitary patent to be granted in Spring 2014(!) and yet here we are, some 6 years beyond that point, with no real end in sight for the ratification process.
Mark Richardson 8 September 2020
Is it time to bury the UPC yet?
Just before Christmas, the Preparatory Committee for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) published an online article, looking ahead into this new year. Optimistic as usual, the committee expressed to be “hopeful the New Year will bring closure to [its] endeavours and the Unified Patent Court will become a reality”. Some words were spent on the delay caused by the challenges to the German ratification of the Agreement at the German Federal Constitutional Court (GFCC), but most of the article was meant to inform the future users of the unified patent system about the provisional application of the Agreement in the months before the Court will actually start. The article included no words on Brexit and the as yet unclear future relation between the EU and the UK. (more…)
New UPC Implementation Timetable and further UK ratification progress
Following the Brexit vote last June progress on bringing the unitary patent system into operation ground to a halt. The last few weeks however have seen a resumption of activities which was confirmed last week when the Unfied Patent Court Preparatory Committee website posted a new timetable for the UPC Agreement to come into force and the Court to open.
All things being equal the Preparatory Committee sees the Court becoming operational in December 2017. Keeping its end of the bargain, for now, the UK also took the next step in its own ratification process. (more…)
UK signs Protocol on Privileges and Immunities (Unified Patent Court update)
My post last week covered the steps remaining for the UK to ratify the UPC Agreement. Number 1 in that list was signature by the UK of the Protocol on Priviliges and Immunities. Also mentioned in point 1 of the list was the expectation that the UK government’s regular email updates of the process would also recommence.
IPcopy is pleased to note that both items were crossed off the list last Thursday when an email from the IPO arrived that confirmed the UK had signed the Protocol in Brussels on 14 December. Additionally the email noted that the preparations for laying the necessary legislation have started up again.
IPcopy understands that a number of people in the UPC Taskforce were reassigned following the Referendum result. A new project team has been put together to deliver the ratification work including Liz Coleman (Lead), Dr Laura Stars (Policy Lead), Jonathan England (Operations Manager Aldgate Tower) and Helen Treharne (Communications).
Further updates are expected from the IPO in the New Year but the next Executive Group meeting of the Preparatory Committee is scheduled for 11 January.
Mark Richardson 20 December 2016
Unified Patent Court Update – July 2016 – KBO*
Despite the result of the referendum in the UK, it would appear that technical preparations for the Unified Patent Court are going to continue.
The UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement is a required step in bringing the unitary patent system into play. Without the UK’s participation the remaining members of the project are faced with either waiting for the UK to leave the EU (which appears to be at least 2.5 years away now) or renegotiating the UPC Agreement to remove the UK.
However, in a joint statement from the Chairmen of the UPC Preparatory Committee and the EPO Select Committee dealing with the Unitary Patent it is noted that “it is too early to assess what the impact of this vote [the Referendum] on the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent Protection eventually could be”. The statement ends with the Preparatory and Select Committees stating that “work dedicated to the technical implementation should continue to progress as envisaged.” (more…)
Unified Patent Court – June 2016 Update
The first update in a while popped into IPcopy’s inbox today from the UK’S UPC Taskforce. This looks like it may be the last such official update for a few weeks as the UK will be “going dark” in the period before the EU Referendum. (Hopefully the first communication after the restart won’t begin “EU Referendum Result – Oops. The rest of you can take it from here, right?”!)
Anyway, back to the main news: (more…)
UPC updates – No Opt-out fee for the UPC & more news
A selection of UPC updates on various issues including the latest Preparatory Committee meeting, ratification updates in the UK and Germany and a look at the Case Management System. (more…)
UPC: More on the sunrise opt-out register & Taskforce Update
In our post last week we highlighted a story we’d seen that the UKIPO would be responsible for the opt-out register during the sunrise period for the Unified Patent Court and that this register would be transferred to the Court’s registry when the court became active.
We’d not heard of this development before so we reached out to the UPC taskforce team at the UKIPO and asked them about the sunrise period, the opt-out register and the UKIPO’s involvement. (more…)
Unitary patent and UPC news round-up
Here’s a selection of unitary patent and UPC flavoured news items that we’ve seen in the last few weeks:
Opt out fee
The regulations and agreements surrounding the unitary patent package have been picked over many times which has resulted in discussions about “hard coded bifurcation“, the Malta problem and just what the “exclusive competence” of the UPC means. To add to that list we now have the question: “Just what is the legal basis for the opt out fee?” (more…)
UPC Update: UK UPC Taskforce (July 2015)
Another of our semi regular updates on the progress of the unitary patent and UPC. (more…)