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IP Information & News

26 April 2017

United Kingdom General Election likely to delay Unified Patent Court

UPC Aldgate

The announcement on 18 April 2017 that the UK will again go to the polls in June 2017 to elect a government is likely to delay the implementation of the Unified Patents Court (UPC).

The UPC requires the ratification of the UK before it can be implemented. The process of ratification had begun but needs to be completed before parliament is dissolved on 3 May 2017 ahead of the General Election in June 2017 if the currently projected start date of December 2017 is to be maintained.

It is possible that even if the ratification process is not completed by 3 May 2017 that the UPC will start in December 2017 but it would need to be at the very top of the new government’s list of priorities – which does not seem likely. The new government would need to complete re-start the ratification process which is likely to delay the start of the UPC into 2018 and possibly beyond 2018 given the current political landscape of the UK.

Whether for or against the implementation of the UPC, this is likely to generate further uncertainty for many businesses and intellectual property professionals alike.
However, in the search for positives, the likely delay to the start of the UPC means that businesses who have European patents and patent applications will have more time to prepare strategies for approaching the new court.

That said, it is still important for businesses to get on with identifying which European patents they wish to opt out of the UPC.

It is worth keeping in mind that even currently granted European patents, i.e. those that will have been granted before the UPC comes into force, will be subject to the jurisdiction of the UPC when it begins. This means that those patents will become vulnerable to centralised revocation which could lead to the revocation of those patents in each of the member states party to the UPC – which is likely to cover the industrial heartland of Europe.

If you would like to discuss your European patent portfolio in any further detail then contact your usual UDL advisor or here