Carpmaels & Ransford has joined a consortium of IP legal professionals in commissioning an opinion on the legality of UK membership of the Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) once the UK leaves the EU.
The opinion was delivered by Richard Gordon QC and Tom Pascoe of Brick Court Chambers. They conclude that the UK could continue to be covered by the UP and fall within the jurisdiction of the UPC. While there are legal obstacles, the opinion identifies the amendments and agreements required for the UK to remain in both the UP and UPC. The opinion concludes that if these changes are politically palatable in the UK and across Europe, then the UK would maintain its current status and could continue to host the Life Sciences and Chemistry Central Division of the UPC. Some have even suggested that the approach set out in the opinion may also allow non-EU countries, such as Switzerland, Norway and Turkey, to also join the UP and UPC.
The conclusions have been warmly welcomed by many, including the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) who were also involved in commissioning the opinion. Regardless of how the UP/UPC issue is resolved following the Brexit vote, UK protection will continue to be available via the European Patent Office and firms such as Carpmaels & Ransford will continue to prosecute, defend and litigate patents across Europe. The major beneficiaries of a UP and UPC system that includes the UK are likely to be patentees and litigants who would enjoy the increased efficiency and geographical coverage for patent protection, enforcement and revocation.
Speaking about the opinion Ian Kirby, head of Dispute Resolution at Carpmaels & Ransford commented: “This opinion suggests the barriers to the UK being involved in the UP and UPC are primarily political rather than legal. It is up to the politicians to see if and when to proceed with the eagerly awaited new system.”