Wednesday, 9 March 2016

UK passes legislation for unitary patent, no ratification yet

A good month after publishing the draft legislation to amend the UK Patents Act, the UK parliament has now passed it (House of Commons on 1 March and the House of Lords on 2 March). Amending the Patent Act was necessary to adopt the unitary patent.

During the debate, Mr. Edward Vaizey (The Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy) notes that "We think that the new court and patent will be ready for business in early 2017." Indeed, the mandatory three participants have now ratified the agreement or are about to.  Two more ratifying countries are needed after Germany and the UK ratified, but this will likely not be a problem.

We are still waiting for the UK to formally ratify the Agreement on a Unified patent court. Will this happen before or after the EU referendum of 23 June? I suppose passing this legislation means that the UK government could ratify the agreement if they wanted to. I'm not sure that this is going to happen though. It may mean a hasty retreat if the referendum goes sour, after just a few months in the new system. For the UK it may be preferable to avoid this. On the other hand, even outside the EU, it is preferable for UK to have an easier option to obtain a patent in the continent. So who know what will happen.

Photo "'Belinda' Flying the Flag", by Peter Trimming via Flickr under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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