Unified Patent Court

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The UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property recently decided to ratify various international and EU agreements. It signals that this government wants a streamlined process for intellectual property  registration and litigation not dependent upon membership of the EU. The decision opens up the possibility of the UK operating an improved system for international businesses in dealing with IP assets in the UK  as we explain.

Unified Patent Court structure

The Unified Patent Court is an international patent court. Membership is open to any European countries who sign the agreement. Importantly in the post Brexit world, membership is not restricted to EU member countries.  Hence, if the UK leaves the EU, the UK can still operate under the Unified Patent Court.

The Unified Patent Court, UPC, will operate as a single court for patent litigation applying a single set of rules and legislation. There will be large central divisions in London, Paris and Munich. There is the ability to set-up local courts. There will be one court of appeal, based in Luxembourg. This is the final court from which there is no further appeal.

This court will have jurisdiction over European countries who ratify the UPC agreement. The benefit is a patent infringement action brought to the UPC can be unilaterally enforced.  For example, if the UK leaves the EU, then an injunction obtained in, e.g. France, could be enforced in the UK. The need for multiple litigation is removed.

Unified Patent Court: business benefits

Streamlining patent litigation benefits businesses. Potentially, the UK could offer a far better patent enforcement system than is currently available. This would make the UK even more attractive to businesses.

The UPC brings the potential of:

  • A streamlined set of laws aligned to the Unified Patent Court;
  • A European central court that deals with patent infringement litigation;
  • A fast track process for patent applications;
  • A roll out of the success of IPEC by bringing in a fast track lower cost system for smaller claims;
  • The opportunity to promote the UK as the choice of jurisdiction and seat for court hearings.

The formal ratification of the Unified Patent Court by the United Kingdom is currently delayed until July 2017. We will provide you with more specific updates as they take place.

Design Rights

The UK has announced that it will ratify the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement for international registration of designs by 31stMarch 2018.

The Hague Agreement allows designers and businesses to obtain protection for industrial designs in multiple countries with a single application. The European Union is one of 66 members. The UK will become an independent member within its own rights after Brexit.