Could Michel Barnier push for relocation of the UPC Division based in London?
It is reported that in a meeting about the Brexit negotiations, Michel Barnier, current chief negotiator for the EU, mentioned that Brussels is reviewing whether London can keep its Central Division of the Unified Patent Court after Brexit.
This relocation could be motivated by the fact that the European Medicine Agency (as well as the European Banking Authority), whose mission is to evaluate European medicinal products will be relocated on the territory of the EU, as indicated by the European Council decision on the “Procedure leading up to a decision on the relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority“.
As the third UPC central division will be competent for pharmaceuticals, chemistry and metallurgy, this potential relocation seems to indicate that the EU is trying to achieve a coherent EU framework for those industries.
However, if it actually takes place, this relocation will be particularly significant. Indeed, the United Kingdom accounts for 11% of extra-EU exports of medicinal and pharmaceutical products and is thus considered as one of the European leaders in this industry. Furthermore, it should be considered against the fact that the UK is currently taking the final steps towards the ratification of the UPC Agreement and has notified its approval to the Protocol to the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court on provisional application a few days ago. This potential relocation project therefore begs the question of whether it could jeopardise the UK’s participation to the Unitary patent package and its ability to contribute to the UPC case law on issues of particular interests for its economy.