UK pulls the plug on UP/UPC

The UK Government has announced that it will not take part in the Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) systems.

 A UK Government spokesman stated:

“The UK will not be seeking involvement in the UP/UPC system. Participating in a court that applies EU law and bound by the CJEU is inconsistent with our aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation.” *

However, it is clear that the fate of the UP/UPC project will not impact the UK’s continuing membership of the European patent system through the European Patent Office (EPO). Applications to the EPO will continue to cover the UK and European Patent Attorneys at Appleyard Lees will be able to act for clients as usual.

The UK’s reluctance to be bound by EU rules and, in particular, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), is consistent with policy positions recently expressed by the UK Government.

Robert Cumming, Appleyard Lees partner and Head of Disputes commented:

“The decision is unsurprising. Whilst it may be disappointing for patent owners seeking to enforce their rights simultaneously across multiple countries, it means that enforcement must continue in the courts of the United Kingdom.

 “The jurisdiction of England & Wales is renowned around the world for its pragmatism and in-depth expertise and will no doubt continue to lead the way in patent litigation, whether or not the UPC comes to fruition.”

It remains to be seen whether this will be the death knell of the UPC. The UK has been one of the major backers of the project and is one of the biggest European economies. There is also a legal challenge to the UPC making its way through the German Constitutional Court that may raise further barriers to the progress of the project. It is an open question whether the political will remains in the EU to drive the project forward.

Appleyard Lees will continue to monitor developments.  If you have any queries in the meantime, please raise them with your usual contact or email us.

* As reported by World Intellectual Property Review

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