Competitiveness Council to discuss UPC next Monday, 28 November 2016 – announcement expected on UK participation


In the EU Council’s press release listing the main topics to be discussed in its meetings this week and next, the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) system is one of four topics listed for discussion by the EU Competitiveness Council on Monday 28 November in Brussels.  The press release (here) states “Ministers will be invited to exchange views on the finalisation of the implementation and entry into operation of the unitary patent protection system.”  The topic was an “Any Other Business” item in its previous meeting and in that there were several calls for the system to enter into force swiftly (see here and here).  It is anticipated that in this meeting the UK Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, will state how the UK intends to proceed regarding its participation (or not) in the system.  The Baroness’ announcement is expected to provide a definitive answer on the UK’s position, and therefore represents a critical moment for the future of the UPC.  If the UK indicates an intention not to ratify, the remaining states would need to take a potentially difficult decision as to whether to proceed without the UK, albeit with political pressure mounting for them to find a way to do so.  If the UK, however, indicates that it will ratify, these problems will disappear and the UPC could well start in mid-2017 only slightly later than anticipated prior to the 23 June referendum.

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