Further delays expected before the (European) Unified Patent Court (UPC) is created, perhaps until 2018

The House of Commons of the UK Parliament on 9 June 2015 passed a bill approving the European Union Referendum Bill 2015-2016 which, if also approved by the House of Lords, will clear the way for a referendum to be held in the UK before the end of 2017 on the UK’s continuing membership in the European Union.

This in turn means that it is highly unlikely that the UK will be in a position to deposit its ratification instrument on the Agreement on the UPC, which was signed on 19 February 2013 by 25 EU Member States, including the UK. For the Agreement on the UPC to become operational (enter into force), ratification by 13 members states is required, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom.  Of the ‘essential’ countries, only France has done this so far, for a total number of seven member states.

Given the UK’s role in the triumvirate on the UPC and the Unitary European Patent, until its ongoing membership in the EU has been settled, implementation of a EU-wide, unitary patent system will be stalled.

For further information about the UPC Agreement and its implementation status, visit the EPO website.