Europe's UK-backed Unified Patent Court 'could be derailed'

Blighty's splurged millions may be a write-off

Europe's multi-million-pound Unified Patent Court could be derailed entirely following the UK's decision to leave the EU.

The court was planned to open in 2017 and was intended to hear cases regarding infringements of European patents across EU member states.

Only full membership of the EU allows countries to participate in the system, designed to simplify the application of patents across the continent.

However, now the UK will no longer be part of the European Union, fears are growing that the entire programme will cease to be an attractive proposition to patentees.

One insider remarked: "The entire system is reliant on the UK being part of the project. All parties are currently working to rescue the UPC."

France, Germany and UK were due to ratify the agreement, with those three states having covered all of the programme's set-up costs. The overall cost to the UK alone is thought to have run into millions of pounds, with investment in technology, hiring policy folk, and a newly-opened dedicated UPC court in central London.

Some have already pointed out that the court will be in limbo and that the entire system will almost certainly be delayed as the UK is one of three key countries needed to ratify the project.

Helen Cline, legal director of IP and life sciences at law firm Pinsent Masons, said: "There is a general consensus that the programme could be derailed as it will no longer be seen as an attractive proposition to patentees if we are not part of it."

However, she said it's possible the agreement might be changed to include non-EU member state countries.

Another insider told The Register that Blighty's Intellectual Property Office has effectively downed tools on the project following Brexit. However, the IPO denied this was the case, insisting it is taking a “business as usual” approach. ®

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