The UK government announced on 26th April 2018 that the UK had ratified the UPC Agreement.
This ratification is particularly significant. Indeed, the UK is one of the three member states, with France and Germany, whose ratification is mandatory for the Agreement to come into force.
However, the UK’s ratification comes after the Brexit referendum in June 2016, which jeopardised the UK’s participation to the UPC. Indeed, before the UK leaves the EU, it must secure its participation to the UPC by way of international agreements and amendments of the UPC Agreement.
The UK’s ratification of the UPC also raises the question of the UK’s respect of EU law. Article 20 of the UPC Agreement in fact states that ” (t)he Court shall apply Union law in its entirety and shall respect its primacy“.
Regarding these issues, the UK government declares laconically that “(t)he unique nature of the proposed court means that the UK’s future relationship with the Unified Patent Court will be subject to negotiation with European partners as we leave the EU.“
The UK also ratified the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities
On 26th April 2018 the UK also ratified the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. This protocol will entitle the Unified Patent Court to benefit from privileges and immunities necessary for the Court to exercise its functions. So far 5 countries have ratified it.
What does these ratifications mean for the UPC?
The UK’s ratifications are strong indicators of its long term commitment to the UPC. The UK’s participation to the UPC is good news as it will ensure the atractivity of the Court. This ratification may also speed up the entry into operation of the Court, regularly postponed since the signature of the UPC Agreement.
Therefore, the entry into force of the UPC Agreement now only requires Germany’s ratification. The latter however is on hold. In fact, the German constitutional court must decide whether the German law passed to allow ratification is constitutional.
See here for more posts on Bexit and the UPC.
See here for more posts on Germany’s ratification.