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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On 20 July 2020 the UK made a statement in Parliament that it had withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.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

 

UPC – still a long way to go…

brexit-1481028_1920On 26 April 2018, World IP Day, the UK surprised more than a few people by ratifying the UPC Agreement and in the process taking the total number of countries who have ratified the agreement to 16. The UK press release that accompanied this announcement stated “Our ratification brings the international court one step closer to reality”.

Since the ratification process only requires 13 member states, including France, Germany and the UK, to ratify then it might appear to some that German ratification is the only remaining obstacle to the unitary patent system going live.

However, IPcopy suggests that it is still too soon to be able to say if and when the system will come into force. (more…)

UPC Ratification: The UK completes its ratification formalities

EU shirt2According to the website of the Council of the European Union (and just about every other official IP channel), the UK deposited its instrument of ratification (on 26 April 2018) to become the 16th country to complete its ratification formalities. The UK joins Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, France and Austria as one of the sixteen countries who have completed their ratification processes.

The unitary patent system requires 13 countries to ratify, including the UK, France and Germany. However, the German Constitutional Court challenge has thrown the timescale and the long term future of the unitary patent system into doubt.

There are now enough countries to have ratified the unified patent court agreement that the system will come into effect if Germany completes its own ratification procedures and sufficient approvals to the PPA are obtained.

Infographic UK

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Mark Richardson 27 April 2018

UPC Update February 2018: UK and DE progress and the future of the UPC

IMG_8533-0The UK has now completed all its legislative steps with respect to the UPC Agreement and UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities and is in a position to ratify the UPC Agreement. However, the potential timescale of the constitutional court challenge in Germany and the remaining ratification/implementation period means, in IPcopy’s view, that the UPC system will not come into force, at least in its current configuration. (more…)

The Lords consider the UPC: “Where is it?”

IMG_8533With the ongoing UPC related court case in Germany and the uncertainties arising due to Brexit, the preparations for the unitary patent system have, for the moment at least, something of the feel of a dead rubber match in a sporting competition.

Perhaps, once (if?) the German case allows German ratification preparations to continue and the UK has managed to make its intentions clear, the project will get up and running again. Until then any developments have, to my mind at least, the feel of going through the motions.

It was against this backdrop that the House of Lords Grand Committee met on 6 December 2017 to consider the draft Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017. The approval of this Order by the House of Lords and its subsequent approval (along with the corresponding Scottish Order) by the Privy Council are the last pieces of the UK’s ratification process that need to be completed before the UK can formally ratify the UPC Agreement. (more…)

Unified Patent Court: the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

IMG_8533-1The unitary patent and UPC are within touching distance of going live. However, recent developments in the UK and Germany potentially put the whole system at risk. So, simply put, where are we now?

When the unitary patent system first came to IPcopy’s attention we were at a conference in Brussels in December 2012 where the keynote speaker from the European Commission suggested that the system would be up and running in just over a year, i.e. Spring 2014. The reality and difficulties of setting up the unified patent court meant that the “go live” date consistently slipped further and further along. Back in August 2013 we had adjusted the expected go live date to “late 2015” and last May, a start date somewhere within 2017 was expected. (more…)

UPC Update – October 2017

IMG_8533-1Autumn has officially arrived and so, as we get stuck into another academic year, IPcopy thought we’d quickly take stock of where we are with the unitary patent project. Since our last update back in July it seems like we’ve had a fair amount of news but little in the way of progress. (more…)

Unitary Patent Package – The Ratification Game (Lithuania completes its ratification formalities)

EU shirt2Update (25 August 2017)

According to the website of the Council of the European Union, Lithuania has now deposited its instrument of ratification (on 24 August 2017) to become the 14th country to complete its ratification formalities. Lithuania joins Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, France and Austria as one of the fourteen countries who have completed their ratification processes.

The unitary patent system requires 13 countries to ratify, including the UK, France and Germany. The EU Referendum in the UK threw the timescale into doubt last year and the Preparatory Committee recently noted that there are some additional hurdles to be overcome before the system can go live, namely securing enough approvals to the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) and the resolution to the challenge in the German Constitutional Court. Despite these issues the Preparatory Committee still seem to be working toward the sunrise period at the UPC starting in early 2018.

There are now enough countries to have ratified the unified patent court agreement that the system will come into effect if the UK and Germany complete their own ratification procedures and sufficient approvals to the PPA are obtained.

Now that Lithuania has completed all of the formalities we have updated our ratification infographic (for an answer to the question “What’s up with this infographic?“, please see the bottom of the post!”).

 

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Unitary Patent Package – The Ratification Game (Estonia completes its ratification formalities)

EU shirt2Update (2 August 2017)

According to the website of the Council of the European Union, Estonia has now deposited its instrument of ratification (on 1 August 2017) to become the 13th country to complete its ratification formalities. Estonia joins Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, France and Austria as one of the thirteen countries who have completed their ratification processes.

The unitary patent system requires 13 countries to ratify, including the UK, France and Germany. The EU Referendum in the UK threw the timescale into doubt last year and the Preparatory Committee recently noted that there are some additional hurdles to be overcome before the system can go live, namely securing enough approvals to the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) and the resolution to the challenge in the German Constitutional Court. Despite these issues the Preparatory Committee still seem to be working toward the sunrise period at the UPC starting in early 2018.

There are now enough countries to have ratified the unified patent court agreement that the system will come into effect if the UK and Germany complete their own ratification procedures and sufficient approvals to the PPA are obtained.

Now that Estonia has completed all of the formalities we have updated our ratification infographic (for an answer to the question “What’s up with this infographic?“, please see the bottom of the post!”).

(more…)

UPC: Summer Recess Update

The UK Parliament is now on its summer recess until September which seems like a good time for a brief update on some unitary patent related bits and bobs from the last couple of weeks. (more…)