The UK Government ratified the Unified Patents Court (UPC) Agreement on World IP Day, 26 April 2018. This paves the way for the Unitary Patent System to start from the end of 2018, subject to ratification of the UPC Agreement by Germany.
The Unitary Patent System will enable applicants of European patents to obtain a single Unitary Patent covering all countries of the European Union (EU) that have ratified the UPC Agreement. Infringement and Validity of Unitary Patents will be handled by a central Unified Patent Court (UPC) as we have described previously. https://www.watermark.com.au/are-european-unitary-patents-part-of-your-ip-strategy/
The UPC Agreement needed ratification by at least 13 EU countries, including France, Germany and UK for the Unitary Patent System to start. So far, 15 countries have ratified, and now only ratification by Germany is required. This is currently delayed by a constitutional challenge in Germany, which is expected to be decided later this year.
Will the UK be part of the Unitary Patent System after Brexit?
A draft agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU of the effect of Brexit on IP in the UK was recently released, https://www.watermark.com.au/update-what-brexit-means-for-european-trade-marks-and-designs/. While this covered the effect of Brexit on EU trade marks and designs, the UPC and the Unitary Patent System were not mentioned in the draft agreement.
Now the UK Government has ratified the UPC Agreement, it seems apparent that UK wishes to be part of the Unitary Patent System after Brexit, and to maintain a branch of the Unified Patents Court in London. This, however, will need to be ironed out during the ongoing Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK.