“And then there were 4…” Progress towards a Unitary Patent for Europe
Belgium is the latest country to make steps to ratify the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC).
In order to come into effect, 13 EU countries need to ratify the agreement on the UPC, including France, Germany and the UK. In August 2013, Austria was the first country to deposit its ratification instrument. France deposited its instrument of ratification in April 2014; notable because France is one of the countries (together with Germany and the UK) which must ratify in order for the Agreement to come into force – four months after the final deposit of the relevant instruments of ratification. Now Belgium’s House of Representatives has approved the Bill to allow the ratification of the Agreement; official ratification is expected before the end of May 2014. It is understood that Malta has ratified too, but this isn’t official yet. The timetable for ratification is such that the UK will not ratify before 2015.
The UK government has also promised an assessment of the economic impact of the unitary patent system before the UK ratifies. The earliest UPs are not expected until late 2015 at the earliest, and more likely 2016. HGF’s information on the Unitary Patent can be found here.