Unified Patent Court

The arrival of Europe’s new Unified Patent Court (UPC) is now fast approaching. The new Court had been on track to start in December 2017, with a sunrise period for opting out patents from its jurisdiction starting in September 2017. The UK general election called for 08 June 2017 may delay the ratification process but is not expected to delay the launch of the new court by more than a month or so. The UPC is now expected to open and the first unitary patents expected to be granted early 2018.

The UPC will have jurisdiction over not only new unitary patents but also over existing European patents which have not been opted out of its jurisdiction during the transitional period.

Following the referendum vote last year discussions took place as to whether the UK could participate in the UPC and Unitary Patent system post Brexit. Rowan Freeland, head of Simmons & Simmons’ London Intellectual Property Group organised a consortium of the IP Federation, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, and several law firms, to seek an Opinion from EU Constitutional law experts, Richard Gordon QC and Tom Pascoe on whether the UK would be able to continue to play a part in the UPC after leaving the EU. For reasons set out in that Opinion, provided certain steps are taken, it seems that UK should not have to leave the UPC upon Brexit.

The UK Government announced in November 2016 that it will ratify the Agreement despite the Brexit vote, and since then the UK has continued by ratifying the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities in December 2016. The UK had been expected to ratify shortly after Easter 2017. The announcement on 18 April that a general election is called for 08 June 2017 means that UK ratification is likely to be delayed until after the election. This may delay the launch of the UPC, which comes into operation on the first day of the fourth month after the month in which the last of the UK or Germany has ratified the UPC Agreement. The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is now expected to open in early 2018.


Keep an eye on the latest news and navigate the historical events leading up to the UPC using the interactive timeline below

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Microsite reviewed: April 2017

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.