On 28 November 2016, the UK government issued a press release that, despite the UK’s leave from the EU, commonly known as “Brexit,” it still plans to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (“UPC Agreement”) over the coming months. The UPC Agreement was signed by 24 out of 25 EU Member States that participate in the enhanced cooperation procedure to create a unitary patent system in the EU, including the UK.
The UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville Rolfe, said that for as long as the UK was a Member State of the EU, “the UK will continue to play a full and active role.” She added that the (long-developed) new patent system “will provide an option for businesses that need to protect their inventions across Europe.”
At present, patent protection in Europe can either be obtained through national patents, issued by the respective national offices, or European patents, granted by the European Patent Office. However, the granted European patent is only a “bundle” of individual national patents. Pursuant to article 64(3) of the European Patent Convention, any infringement of a European patent shall be dealt with by national law. Thus, despite the name European patent, there is no unitary property right with effect for all member states and no unitary judicial protection. Judicial relief can only be obtained on a national level and only applies to the territory of each respective member state.
Under the new unitary patent system, it will be possible for businesses to protect and enforce their patent rights across Europe with a single pan-European patent right and through a single unified patent court. The central division of the UPC will have its seat in Paris, with London (life sciences) and Munich (mechanical engineering) each hosting specialist seats.
This article was originally published on AllAboutIP – Mayer Brown’s blog on relevant developments in the fields of intellectual property and unfair competition law. For intellectual property-themed videos, Mayer Brown has launched a dedicated channel available here.