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UK ratifies the UPCA

27 April 2018

Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, announced yesterday (26 April 2018) that the UK has ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA). The announcement came during Mr Gyimah’s speech at the IPAN World IP Day event held in the House of Commons.

Mr Gyimah said “Ratification of this important agreement demonstrates that internationally, as well as at home, the UK is committed to strong IP protections. This will help to foster innovation and creativity, bringing our modern and ambitious Industrial Strategy to life”.

The Unified Patent Court will allow companies and inventors to protect their inventions in at least 17 countries when the system is implemented. The court coming into operation will complete the so called “Unitary Patent Package” which will also allow for a single Unitary Patent that will simplify the patent granting process in Europe. You can find ten reasons why the system is a great thing for UK businesses here.

UPC specialist and W&R Partner Russell Barton said:

“When the UK government decided to continue with the process of ratifying the Unified Patent Court Agreement in November 2016, it was a very positive step for the UK and for innovative companies throughout Europe. Back then, we didn’t foresee the number of obstacles and challenges that would interfere with the timely progress of that process, so we are delighted to hear ratification is now complete. There is still work to be done to ensure that after the UPC comes into being, the UK stays inside it even when outside the EU, but there is every reason to think that work will be completed also.  Having the UK inside the UPC will benefit UK companies, especially SMEs, and the involvement of the UK’s legal culture and judges will make the UPC stronger and more effective”.

In order to bring the UPCA into force, 13 countries, including France, the UK and Germany, must ratify the Agreement. With France (14 March 2014) and the UK (26 April 2018) now having ratified, the only remaining hurdle for introduction of the UPCA is ratification by Germany. As things stand, German ratification is on hold until their Constitutional Court hears a complaint disputing the legitimacy of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) itself. The extent to which that complaint will delay the implementation of the Unitary Patent Package is still unknown.

Until then, the remaining ratifying countries of the UPCA (listed here) will have to wait and see whether Germany will ratify the Agreement, kick-starting the UPC.

For further information regarding the UPC and Unitary Patents, please refer to the Unitary Patent Package page on our website.


Russell Barton and James Mitchell
Electronics, Computing & Physics group

If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing, please contact James Mitchell ( ; +44 207 940 3600) or your usual contact at the firm. This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Withers & Rogers LLP, April 2018