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UPC might start 2017 after all

Today, the UK minister for Intellectual Property announced that the UK government is proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-signals-green-light-to-unified-patent-court-agreement).

“Following the announcement today, the UK will continue with preparations for ratification over the coming months. It will be working with the Preparatory Committee to bring the Unified Patent Court (UPC) into operation as soon as possible.”

This is very good, albeit surprising, news. Not only can the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court start earlier than anticipated by the patent community during the last months, but the new system will also include the UK. Of course, this will make the system even more attractive.

So far, 11 countries have ratified the UPC agreement. The UK and Germany are the two mandatory ratifiers that have not yet ratified. Germany will likely ratify right after UK, since their mission as gate keepers may now have come to its end. The recruitment of judges, which had been put on hold, will now have to continue. Preparation around the world as to patent strategies, opt in/opt out decisions and the like, will have to be resumed.

What will happen when the UK actually leaves the EU is of great interest. Will the UK follow the decisions of the Unified Patent Court when they are no longer an EU member? Will the UK section of the court remain in London? These and many other questions will have to find answers during the coming months.