The unitary patent project and the Unified Patent Court have been limping along in recent years ever since the result of the UK referendum on EU membership and the filing of the German constitutional court challenge against the UPC legislation.
This blog has been less than positive (1, 2) about the prospect of either the UK staying in the system or even the outlook for the project as a whole and yesterday it became clear that, contrary to previous slightly more positive murmurings from the UK Government, the UK has now decided it will not be moving forward in the Unified Patent Court system. Despite the lack of an official announcement the news seemed to pop up online and in IPcopy’s messages from a number of different sources yesterday and IAM Magazine later reported that the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the UK would not be participating in the UPC system.
Although the news will be massively disappointing to the many many people who have worked hard to bring the system into effect it is not exactly unforeseen. The UK Government has for some time been saying that the CJEU would not have any jurisdiction in the UK and this seemed totally incompatible with the idea of participating in the UPC system. The UK-EU negotiating mandates from both the UK and EU this week contained sections on Intellectual Property but neither mentioned the Unified Patent Court which maybe was another sign that the UK would not be taking part.
Will the UPC continue without the UK? IPcopy would not be surprised if the long-awaited decision on the German constitutional complaint is now suddenly decided but if the system does move forward then the UK will need to be removed from the UPC Agreement as the UK branch of the Central Division is explicitly mentioned (see Article 7 of the UPCA). This presumably would require further negotiations on where to relocate the London part of the Central Division and possibly re-ratification of the UPCA and leaves IPcopy wondering if there’s an appetite to continue.
In a piece of almost perfect comedy timing the UK also announced its new Minister for IP yesterday….
Mark Richardson 28 February 2020