On 28 November, the UK Government announced that it will ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, despite the result of the EU referendum to leave the European Union.
The UK Government had already signed up to the Agreement before the EU referendum of 23 June, but the final formalities for ratification were postponed after the result. Those formalities are now likely to be carried out quickly. Apart from the ratification by the UK, Germany is the only state still required to ratify the Agreement. These ratifications are necessary in order to allow the Agreement to enter into force and to launch the (EU) unitary patent and the associated European Unified Patent Court. As far as the practical preparations for the new European patent court and the appointment of judges are concerned, it seems feasible for the court to open in 2017.
Although it is not yet certain at present whether the United Kingdom will be able to continue to participate in the patent court when it ceases to be a member of the EU, the news regarding the UK’s ratification is encouraging. Patent attorney Peter de Lange from V.O. explains: ‘This is an extraordinarily welcome development. The sooner the unitary patent is launched, the better it is for patent holders. Our firm stopped preparations for the unitary patent following the result of the EU referendum, and we are now resuming the work. We will, of course, continue to keep our clients informed about further developments and regarding the schedule as soon as the launch date of the new system is known.’