The UK’s Intellectual Property Minister Lady Neville-Rolfe announced today that the UK Government intends to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.
This is highly significant, as the UK (along with France and Germany) is one of the three countries whose ratification of the treaty is essential for the UPC and Unitary Patent system to come into effect. Today’s announcement therefore ends months of uncertainty which have followed the shock result in the UK’s June referendum, in which a majority of voters opted to end the UK’s EU membership.
A total of 11 countries, including France, have now ratified the Agreement, with at least three more on the way besides the UK and Germany. This means that, subject to UK ratification taking place in the near future, all eyes will turn to Germany as the country which will determine the starting date for the biggest shake-up of the European patent system in decades. Assuming that Germany does not delay with its own ratification, the UPC and Unitary Patent could potentially become reality by Spring or Summer 2017, only a little behind schedule.