Bulgaria ratifies the UPC Agreement
And an update on what's happening in the UK
On Friday 3 June Bulgaria ratified the UPC Agreement.
It is the tenth Member State to ratify, the others being Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Sweden. Ratifications from only three more Member States - two of which must be Germany and the UK - are needed to bring the Agreement into force.
What's happening in the UK?
In early March, both Houses of Parliament approved draft secondary legislation to amend the UK Patents Act 1977 to give effect to the UPC Agreement and EU legislation on the Unitary Patent. The resulting Statutory Instrument (2016 No. 388), was "made" on 12 March 2016, but it will only come into force when the UPC Agreement itself comes into force.
This SI is one of the two pieces of secondary legislation required for the UK to ratify the UPC Agreement. The second, which will reflect the UPC Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, is currently being drafted.
So there has been progress on the legislation, but the question mark of Brexit remains.
It's unlikely that the UK will ratify the UPC Agreement before the EU Referendum on 23 June. And it is not certain what will happen if the UK votes to leave the EU. This uncertainty was apparent from the closing comments of Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, in a meeting on 1 March of the Commons delegated committee responsible for the UK's UPC legislation:
"…were we to leave the European Union, we would no longer be members of the unified patent court. It would then be a matter for the UK Government to ask the European Union whether we could be a member, if we thought that was a good thing. I suspect the European Union would have something to say about that. For people whose lives are dominated by thoughts of having a European patent, it would be a bad thing if we were not a member of the European Union. I hope that that is clear".
We have produced a guide to the UPC and how it will work. If you would like to find out more or request a free copy of the guide, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.