Location of London Division of Unified Patent Court chosen

Posted in European Patents on by Admin

The long-awaited launch of the European unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) seems to be moving ever closer with the recent news that a property has been secured for the London central division of the Court. The 8th floor of East London’s new Aldgate Tower will provide a home for the divisional Court which will hear disputes relating to chemical and pharmaceutical matters (the other two central divisions of the UPC will be based in Munich and Paris, focusing respectively on mechanical engineering and any remaining technologies). Building work on the London court is expected to be completed by Spring 2016, while three other floors of the building will be occupied by the headquarters of controversial taxi-app Uber.

The UPC will have sole jurisdiction for matters including the infringement and revocation of the soon-to-be-introduced unitary patents. Unitary patents will provide a single intellectual property right across many, but not all, EU member states, in contrast to current European patents which convert to a bundle of separate national patents on validation after grant. The UPC will also have jurisdiction over European patents, including existing European patents, although a transitional period of at least 7 years is planned, during which patent owners will be able to opt European patents out of the UPC system.

The leasing of the Court buildings comes soon after the news that Italy has formally requested to take part in the unitary patent package (including both the unitary patent and the associated UPC). Italy had previously opposed the package, but now all EU member states, except Spain, Poland and Croatia, are on course to join the system. The Court of Justice of the European Union also recently rejected two Spanish legal challenges to the proposals. In order for the package to go ahead, an agreement must be ratified by a minimum of 13 countries, including France, Germany and the UK. So far eight countries (including France) have ratified the agreement.

Clients should note that no action is currently required regarding unitary patents unless you have a pending European patent application and would be especially keen to obtain a unitary patent, or you are entering into any legal agreements which could be affected by the new system.

Michael Ford