The UK Government has announced that it will continue preparations to ratify the UPC Agreement to bring the system into effect “as soon as possible”. If the UK and German governments do indeed ratify the UPC Agreement in the coming months, this would mean that the UPC system could start as early as mid-2017.
Depending on who you listen to, however, the UK might (or might not) need to leave the system when the UK ceases to be an EU member state. Either way, the threat of a subsequent UK departure provides another uncertainty and risk factor to bear in mind when considering whether the UPC is right for your business. Early cases could be derailed by lengthy constitutional challenges to the CJEU or at worst, the UPC could be as short-lived as Britain’s membership of the EU.
The decision ends months of speculation about the UK’s next step and this move re-starts the process that most patent owners had put on hold in wake of the Brexit referendum vote. It means that businesses who rely on patents should dust down their plans for opting out of the UPC or choosing Unitary Patent protection and take another careful look at them.