Britain could still benefit from EU patent law following Brexit

The Unified Patent Court Agreement would mean UK designers who hold a patent are still able to protect their work from being illegally copied by companies in other countries.

Brussels , Belgium - March 23, 2015: The European Commission Headquarters of European Community

UK designers could still be able to protect their ideas throughout Europe following Brexit, under a new EU intellectual property initiative.

The government has announced its intention to proceed with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement in what is its first commitment to an EU initiative since the Brexit result in June, reports the Financial Times.

Patent through single court

Ratifying the agreement would mean design businesses could apply for patent protection across Europe with a single patent and through a single court, protecting them from being copied illegally by businesses in other countries.

This would only apply if designers apply for and are successful in obtaining a patent. However, most designers rely on EU and UK unregistered design rights, according to Anti Copying in Design (ACID).

Minister of state for intellectual property, Baroness Neville Rolfe, says: “The new system will provide an option for businesses that need to protect their inventions across Europe. The UK has been working with partners in Europe to develop this option.”

“Cut red tape and unnecessary expenses”

ACID CEO, Dids Macdonald describes the announcement as “good news” for designers, and will “presumably [cut] red tape and unnecessary expenses”.

“This will mean a single court will deal with patent issues across Europe and, presumably the Preparatory Committee will want to bring this forward as soon as possible,” says Macdonald. “After all, it has taken nearly 40 years to negotiate! A lifetime for those with a commercial interest in cost and time effective litigation across borders.

While the UPC is an EU initiative, the court itself is not an EU institution but an international patent court with a judiciary including UK judges.

Hide Comments (2)Show Comments (2)
  • Neil Lampert December 9, 2016 at 9:04 am

    While the UPC will undoubtedly help designers lower their costs, they will still be able to obtain patent protection across Europe after a Brexit, as they do now, regardless of whether the UPC goes ahead or not.
    This is because the European patent system is independent from the EU.

  • Julian Crump December 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    The U.K.’s announcement is encouraging news, but there are still some hurdles to overcome. First of all, although Parliament has approved the Unified Patent Court in principle, it must still approve secondary legislation to allow the Government to ratify the Agreement, and in the current political climate, this may not be a smooth process. More importantly, Germany must also ratify the Agreement, and I understand that the position of the German govt, at least prior to the U.K.’s announcement, is that it would wait until it was clear, following Brexit negotiations, whether the UK would remain part of the unitary patent system after Brexit or not. Since the U.K.’s announcement, there has been no update from the German government on its position. It is to be hoped that the German government will adopt a similarly constructive approach, but again in the current political climate on the Continent, this cannot be guaranteed. So, even if Parliament approves the remaining, minor legislation needed here, the ball is still in Germany’s court.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles