The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is intended to provide a regional forum resolve patent disputes. At the moment, parties have to litigate patent disputes on a country by country basis across Europe, which is time-consuming, expensive and can lead to differing decisions in some countries. UPC decisions will have effect in all 25 states participating in the UPC, providing a single forum to resolve these disputes.
In November 2016, following the EU referendum, the UK Government indicated its intentions to proceed with the ratification of the agreement to implement the UPC. London is set to be a seat of a central division of the UPC, dealing with pharmaceutical and chemical patents, as well as the UK’s local division of the court.
In June 2017 the UPC has announced that the original hope to have the UPC operational by the end of 2017 is no longer possible. This means that it will be at least 2018 before the UPC would be up and running. However, the implementation of the UPC has suffered a further set back with the news that the German Constitutional Court has received a complaint from a German citizen, causing the ratification of the UPC agreement by the German Parliament to be delayed, pending resolution of the complaint.
Before the agreement comes into force, the three countries with highest number of European patents in force in 2012, of which Germany is one (and the UK another) must ratify the agreement. We don’t know how long this current delay will last, but it does raise the possibility of a delay in German ratification causing a significant delay to the entire process which is already falling behind the original timetable. Further developments are eagerly awaited by all stakeholders.