After decades of discussion, the implementation of a so-called “Unitary Patent Package”, i.e. the establishment of a Unitary Patent (UP) and a Unified Patent Court (UPC), has reached its final stages.
The Unitary Patent (UP) aims to provide a single approach to patent protection and enforcement across 25 European Union Member States with a combined population of over 400 million.
Using the existing European patent application procedure, a Unitary Patent will be administered centrally by the European Patent Office (EPO). Once obtained, a Unitary Patent will be enforceable throughout the participating Member States in a single action brought before the new Unified Patent Court (UPC).
The Unitary Patent Package is expected to enter into force during 2019 and will be a supplement to the existing European Patent.
Brexit as well as the German constitution court have however several times delayed the UPC, and uncertainty about the outcome of these situations remain.
Since the UK voted to leave the EU there has been a lot of uncertainty in terms of the future of the UPC especially with regards to its enforceability in the UK, as well as the possibility for having legal representation in the UPC from a non-EU member.
If the UK decides to leave the EU without any acknowledgment of the jurisdiction European Court of Justice, then it is hard to see how the UK based attorneys are able to represent clients in a Unified Patent Court.
Many questions are now naturally emerging, including why the existing UPC member states would be willing to engage in negotiations that could assist UK and British law firms to be a part of the UPC community.
Proceeding with the UPC by the UK out of the of the UPC Agreement seems like a much easier and realistic route going forward.
One thing we know is that the three months sunrise period for initiating UPC while the UK is an EU member is now impossible. This means that the sunrise period would end close to the upcoming MEP election to be held in 23-26 May even if the German constitution court rejected the case. Time is therefore running out for UK to join the UPC.
We will continuously update this page as the news from the UK and Germany emerge.
Our specialist UPC team, consisting of experienced European Patent Attorneys with UPC litigation certificates who can represent clients in the future UPC court, is ready to help you prepare for these changes and help you enforce your patent rights throughout Europe.
If you want to learn more about the Unitary Patent Package and how aera’s experts can help you, please contact us or send an email directly to one of our experts below.