[Update 19.5.2014: the Intellectual Property Act 2014 has now appeared on the legislation.gov.uk website and can be accessed here]
The Intellectual Property Bill left the “ping pong” stage last month after the House of Lords approved the amendments made to the Bill by the House of Commons. Yesterday evening, the IP Bill received Royal Assent to pass into law as the Intellectual Property Act 2014 (House of Lords Hansard; Parliament (Intellectual Property Act 2014)).
As noted on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website it is expected that some measures within the Act will come into force in October 2014, with all the measures being implemented by late 2015.
Section 17 of the IPA 2014 relates to implementation of the Unified Patent Court Agreement and makes provision for the insertion of a new Section 88A into the Patents Act 1977 which will give the Secretary of State the power to make an order to give effect to the provisions of the UPC Agreement, i.e. to ratify the UPC Agreement. It is expected that ratification will occur before the UK’s General Election in May 2015.
In addition to ratifying the agreement the UK will, in accordance with Article 84 of the UPC Agreement, need to notify the European Commission of its ratification of the Agreement at the time of the deposit of its ratification instrument pursuant to Article 18(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012. It is likely that the deposition of the UK’s instrument of ratification will be delayed because of the sheer volume of other issues that will need to be put in place before the UPC can go live. These issues include finalising the IT system (the UPC system will be a fully electronic affair), training the judges and sourcing and fitting out accommodation for the local, regional and central divisions etc.
The unitary patent system will get up and running following the deposition of the 13th instrument of ratification, including the deposition of the instuments from France, Germany and the UK. Since France has already deposited its instrument of ratification only the UK and Germany will be able to fully control the implementation date of the system and basically make sure that everything is ready before the required number of deposits have been made.
Mark Richardson 15 May 2014