Since the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement was signed in February 2013, paving the way for the introduction of a centralised European patent court and the granting of a European Unitary Patent, we have known that thirteen countries needed to ratify the Agreement for this to come into effect.
Italy was initially reluctant to be covered by a Unitary Patent, but was keen on the UPC. Since then, it has also agreed that Unitary Patents should cover Italy. Now, Italy has become the twelfth country to ratify the UPC Agreement. The other countries which have already ratified are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden. It is understood that other countries will ratify the Agreement in the relatively near future.
However, as well as requiring at least thirteen ratifications before the UPC can come into effect, the Agreement also requires that the UK, France and Germany must have ratified the Agreement. While France has ratified, neither the UK nor Germany has yet done so.
The UK Government announced in November 2016 that, notwithstanding the intention of the UK to leave the European Union, the UK was continuing with the preparations for ratification of the UPC Agreement and aimed to bring the UPC into operation as soon as possible. However, we still do not know when the UK will be ratifying the Agreement. We therefore still do not know when the UPC may start to operate.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.