It has now been announced that the UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). This takes the Unified Patent Court one step closer to becoming an operational international court.
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) will be an international court having jurisdiction over patent disputes across all of its contracting states. The UPC will be able to provide a single judgement that has cross-border effects. However, to come into force, the UPCA requires ratification from 13 Member States including the UK, France and Germany. 16 countries (including the UK and France) have now ratified the UPCA, meaning that it is now only Germany who still needs to ratify the UPCA before it can come into effect.
Whilst the UK’s ratification of the UPCA is an important step in establishing the UPC, ratification by Germany will still take some time. Germany will not be able to ratify the UPCA until after a decision has been reached on a challenge before the German Constitutional Court (and only then if the court finds that German ratification is lawful).
Before the UPC comes into effect, there are still a number of hurdles that must be overcome and a number of uncertainties that must be resolved, for example, what impact will Brexit have? Consequently, there is no immediate change for patent owners in the short-term. However, this announcement could serve as a tipping point for IP attorneys to make sure their clients are well-informed and best protected if and when the UPC eventually comes into force.
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