The UK’s BioIndustry Association (BIA) has welcomed the announcement, made by the minister for intellectual property, Sam Gymiah MP, on World Intellectual Property (IP) day, that the UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA).
The UPC will be a court shared by the contracting member states of the European Union and as such will make up part of their respective judicial systems. As specified on the UPC website: ‘it will have exclusive have exclusive competence in respect of European patents and European patents with unitary effect… [it] will not have any competence with regard to national patents’.
“Being able to protect intellectual property is vital for life science companies and is often the key value in emerging bioscience companies. We welcome the announcement that the UK has ratified the UPCA to create a single system for the registration, prosecution and enforcement of patents across much of Europe,” said BIA CEO Steve Bates. “This will provide the option for businesses to save time and money, which will be of particular benefit for SMEs, as they will be able to register their patents across the participating countries at reduced cost and enforce them through a centralised court system rather than multiple local courts. The Central Division of the Court with responsibility for life sciences cases is due to be based in London, further cementing the UK’s position as a primary destination for investment. The involvement of the UK judiciary with their significant expertise will also be a major advantage to the new system.
“The BIA supported the UK’s involvement in establishing the UPC but the question of whether to ratify following the Brexit vote was always a difficult one to balance with the complexities of what would happen should the UK have to withdraw once it leaves the EU. So, while the desire to see rapid entry into force of the new system is understandable, it is now imperative that the government works swiftly with the other signatories to enable the UK to continue to contribute its expertise to the development of the system and UK business to benefit from the UKs full involvement. If this isn’t achieved, appropriate transitional provisions will be essential to address Unitary Patents covering the UK and ongoing litigation covering the UK.”
Ratification by Germany is still required before the UPC system can become operational…