As mentioned a few weeks ago the UK Parliament has been working on secondary legislation to amend the UK Patents Act 1977 to give effect to the UPC Agreement and EU legislation on the Unitary patent.
The final legislation has now been published. The Statutory Instrument (SI) (2016 No. 388) was signed on 12 March 2016 without the Parliament needing to amend it. It will however only come into force when the UPC Agreement comes into force (art 1(2) SI) .
This SI is only one of the two SIs required to enable the UK to ratify the UPC Agreement. The other SI is required to reflect the UPC Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, and is now being drafted following the recent approval of that Protocol by the Preparatory Committee at the February meeting.
Since the UK Brexit referendum is getting closer and has become a subject of much speculation it is interesting to note the opposite dynamics that it has created. On the one hand, it seems that were the UK to leave the EU, it would no longer be able to take part in the UPC, as noted in the House of Commons debate on 01/03/2016 on the SI.
On the other hand, the UK government has adopted a policy whereby it proceeds on all matters on the basis that the UK will remain in the EU. The UK IPO for example stated that the Brexit referendum will have no effect on the UK’s ratification of the UPCA by mid-2016 and on the opening of the Court at the start of 2017. Indeed the Patents (European Patent with Unitary Effect and Unified Patent Court) Order 2016 is a tangible proof of the UK government’s willingness to be ready on time for the UPC to meet its opening schedule.