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UK expected to reveal stance on EU patent court

The UK’s IP minister is expected to reveal the country’s stance on the EU’s long-awaited unitary patent and Unified Patent Court today. Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe will outline the UK’s position in a statement to the EU Council’s Competitiveness Commission.

The statement should provide clarity about whether the UK intends to participate in the scheme or not.

According to a UK Intellectual Property Office spokesperson, an announcement is expected around 5pm (UK time).

Speculation about the UK’s involvement in the scheme has been rife since the UK voted to leave the EU.

As it stands, the UK is due to host a central division of the court in Aldgate Tower, just outside the City.

Before the unitary patent and UPC can come into force 13 countries will have to ratify the agreement. Of those 13, France, Germany and the UK, which had the highest number of European patents in effect when the agreement was finalised in 2012, are mandatory.

But both the Netherlands and Italy have been touted as potential hosts of the central division should the UK pull out of the system.

The court at Aldgate Tower is due to host the ‘human necessities’ division which will include disputes related to pharmaceuticals and medical devices but the UK will also be responsible for managing the IT provisions of the whole court.

Earlier this year, a report commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys found that the UK would have to negotiate a new agreement to remain part of the Unified Patent Court after it leaves the EU. The UK would also be required to implement EU law before the court.

Until now, the UK IPO has declined to comment on matters related to the patent system and court and has previously said that the UK remains a contracting member state and will continue to attend and participate in meetings.

By Max Walters (Courtesy of the Law Society Gazette)