Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Uncertainty about unitary patent in 2016

Both the unified patent court and the EPO are optimistic about 2016 to start the unitary patent system. Kevin Mooney, who chaired the Drafting Committee of the unified patent court, said that the unified patent court could start taking its first cases in October 2016. Batistelli, the president of EPO has recently said that he expects the EPO to grant the first unitary patent in 2016.

On the ratification side, there is progress as well. Currently 7 out of the required 13 countries have notified the Council of the European Union of their ratification. 

On the other hand some countries are indicating delay in their ratification.

David Cameron said he wants the have an 'in-out' referendum at the end of 2017. It seems unlikely, that the UK will ratify a major new European project on the brink of deciding if they want to stay in the EU at all. Without the UK, the unitary patent cannot start. This would mean that the unitary patent would be postponed to 2018. Assuming of course that the UK decides to stay in the EU. If they would leave the EU, it is unclear what will happen.

Ireland has previously said that they will have a referendum on the unitary patent. But recently, Irish minister James Reilly indicated that there would be no more referenda during this Parliament.This means that Ireland cannot decide on the unitary patent until after the next elections. This would push an Irish ratification well into 2016. Poland has indicated that it will not ratify at all.


  1. So while UPC Prep Committee, EPO and member states spend enormous effort to get is all going, the UK can effectively frustrate that by setting the date for their referendum at a very late moment? Do the "necessary states" not have a (gentlemen's) obligation to ratify as quick as possible, that would seem reasonable, esp as they were also driving the whole system?!!!!


    1. I don't know what gentleman agreements there are, if any. But yes, Germany and the UK can keep the start of the unitary patent up indefinitely (France has already ratified). On ipkat there was some suggestion of an early UK ratification, so perhaps it won't be as bad as I feared.