Not too dissimilar to lighting a firework indoors – and then legging it to the nearest exit
Britain has finally signed up to Europe’s unified patent court (UPC) – a long-planned simplification of the continent’s patent system – but big questions still remain thanks to Brexit and a federal court challenge in Germany.
“The Minister for Intellectual Property, Sam Gyimah MP, has today confirmed that the UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA),” the UK government said in a formal announcement.
Soon after, the ratification appeared on the European Union’s treaty webpage, confirming that it is a done deal.
But despite the UK government noting that “our ratification brings the international court one step closer to reality,” the truth is that thanks to the UK’s planned exit from the European Union, things are much messier than they appear.
While the UK is signing the treaty as a member of the European Union, by the time the UPC is up and running, it will almost certainly not be a member of said union, if Brexit is allowed to run its course. In other words, the UK has backed a court system that, come next year, may or may not have any jurisdiction over the country.
On one level, the UK – in pursuing its efforts to break free from European laws – has just agreed to abide by European laws: the patent court’s decision will have the European Court of Justice as its ultimate decider.
In reality, the issue of the UPC is now going to be put on top of the huge pile of issues to be negotiated as part of the final Brexit deal. Not one is sure whether, at that point, if the UK will then stick with the agreement it literally just signed…