Breaking news – that is what we hear around the patent world (or at least in Europe) as from yesterday afternoon, April 27, 2018, when it was announced that the UK has ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). Since the UK is one of the three signatory states that need to ratify the agreement for the system to enter into force and since this had to be done before “Brexit” enters into effect, at least some people should have been relieved yesterday.
The main remaining hurdle is the constitutional challenge of the UPC that was made in Germany last year. Indeed, now that the UK has proven they are ready to kick-start the system, all focus is on Germany. So when will the German court actually reach a decision on the complaint? Even if many reports have been published speculating on this matter, and although the complaint is on “this year’s list of German court cases” we can still not be sure there will be a decision before the UK leaves the EU. If, at that point, there is yet no decision, or if the German court decides that the complaint is to be tried on the merits, this will certainly lead to further delays.
However, we do find the UK ratification of the UPCA very positive and a great step forward in the long awaited establishment of a common EU court system for European patents and for the initiation of the Unitary patent system. Let’s hope the German court speeds up the procedure and reaches a favorable decision so that we may finally see the start of the system.