On 26 April, the UK ratified the EU’s Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement. Although much of intellectual property law and practice is already harmonised amongst EU member states, a UPC would set up a common patent court for the hearing of intellectual property cases, and the direct applicability of its rulings, across all EU member states – something which is currently not the case, as patent cases (even for European Patent Office granted patents) are presently litigated on a country by country basis. The UPC would have the competence to hear cases regarding European patents with unitary effect, but also other European patents registered within states which have ratified the UPC agreement.
The UK is now the 16th European state to ratify the UPC agreement and, with France having ratified in 2014, only Germany’s ratification (alongside the UK and France, as one of the three countries with the most European patents in effect) is necessary for the agreement to come into force and for the UPC to come into operation. Presently, Germany’s constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, has requested the German Federal President hold off on ratification until a domestic constitutional challenge to the agreement has been dealt with. The case is listed to be heard later this year. Continue Reading