You may have heard recently that the Minister of State for Intellectual Property (IP), Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, confirmed in November last year that the UK would ratify the EU unitary patent and concurrent Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is an international patent court.
Wait, but what about Brexit, isn’t this supposed to halt the founding of the Court and UK’s involvement in the matter? As it turns out, it will not change the course of action. Regardless of the country’s decision to part ways with the EU, the UK is still going to take part in the scheme. In fact, the UK is going to set up a City-based court that will act as a branch of the central division of the Court of Justice of the EU.
Ratification In The Pipeline
In order for the UPC and unitary patent to come into force, 13 EU countries have to give their green light. So far 11 countries have just done that, so all there is to do now is to wait for UK’s and Germany’s nod for the ratification to become official. The UK will continue with preparations for ratification over the coming months, as reassured by the minister. She went on to point out the Preparatory Committee is working hard to bring the wheels of UPC into motion the earliest possible.
What Does This Mean For Your IP Rights?
The upcoming changes mean simplification; basically, there is going to be one patent court, and one registered patent only which is going to apply across the entire EU. Put in other words, once the new regime steps into force, it will become much easier for businesses to protect and enforce their patent rights across Europe. “The court will make it easier for British businesses to protect their ideas and inventions from being illegally copied by companies in other countries” as the Government has officially promised us.
This may be even better news if you are a startup owner or small business entrepreneur! Namely, the reform will particularly benefit owners of small and medium-sized companies, exactly because it will bring about a much more consolidated and simplified process. Tony Rollins, president of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, stated for the Law Gazette that “(…) the UPC will be good for business, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, as it will reduce their costs and streamline administrative processes.’
(Still) Playing An Active Role
Neville-Rolfe has wrapped her stand on the subject with the following words:
“The new system will provide an option for businesses that need to protect their inventions across Europe. The UK has been working with partners in Europe to develop this option.
(…) As the Prime Minister has said, for as long as we are members of the EU, the UK will continue to play a full and active role. We will seek the best deal possible as we negotiate a new agreement with the European Union. We want that deal to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy. We want it to involve free trade, in goods and services. We want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market – and let European businesses do the same in the UK.”
Final Words: The Unified Court And IP
We are excited to see how the new court and overall patent system will help improve the protection of intellectual property (IP) of UK businesses. After all, IP is important, and yet fluid, and we need to keep coming up with new and better ways to protect it.