UK intends to explore staying in the UPC and unitary patent system after the UK leaves the EU

July 2018

The UK government has reaffirmed its commitment to the UPC and unitary patent in the recent “Brexit White Paper”.  

The paper’s section on Intellectual Property states that:

“The UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement and intends to explore staying in the Court and unitary patent system after the UK leaves the EU. The Unified Patent Court has a unique structure as an international court that is a dispute forum for the EU’s unitary patent and for European patents, both of which will be administered by the European Patent Office. The UK will therefore work with other contracting states to make sure the Unified Patent Court Agreement can continue on a firm legal basis.”

There is no detail regarding the political or practical steps that would need to be completed to fulfil this commitment, but a 2016 Opinion from Legal Counsel may hold some clues.  At that time, the view was expressed that the UK “could” continue to participate in the Unitary Patent and UPC by entering into a new international agreement with the participating EU Member States and amending the UPC agreement itself.  However, the complexity of the additional agreements and amendments that would need to put in place should not be underestimated. 

As well as more detail from the UK on the practicalities of staying part of the UPC and unitary parent system after Brexit, the outcome of the legal challenge to the ratification UPC in Germany is also awaited.