by Dennis Crouch
One of my students recently led a class discussion on the future European Unitary Patent and Unitary Patent Court. The idea is to have a pan-European patent enforcement zone for patents issued by the European Patent Office (EPO). This differs from the current state-of-affairs that requires patentees to go through national validation their EPO patent grant in each enforcement country and then bring individual enforcement actions in each European country.
The UK’s pending/potential exit from the EU created some question of whether the UPC Agreement (UPCA) would be ratified since the UK is a necessary party to the agreement (along with Germany and France). Germany has also not ratified, but is expect to do so shortly.
In an announcement earlier this week, however, the UK announced that it will ratify the agreement — making the new court an almost-done-deal. In the announcement, the UK Government noted that “The UPC itself is not an EU institution, it is an international patent court. The judiciary appointed include UK judges.” However, Joff Wild notes that “the Court of Justice of the European Union will be the final court of appeal in the system under certain circumstances.”
We can expect that the UPC will quickly become a major patent enforcement institution – and Europe may overtake the US as patent-litigation-central.