In a statement made by the UK government on 28 November, intellectual property minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe announced that the UK will implement the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. This is the first commitment to a new EU initiative since the Brexit referendum in June.
The single patent system is intended to protect inventions across the EU and will provide an option for businesses that need to protect their inventions across Europe.
The UPC, which combines many elements from different European legal traditions, is not only likely to benefit British industry but also London legal and IP professionals with the establishment of the new Unified Patent Court – ruling on patent disputes in pharmaceuticals and life science – and, according to the Intellectual Property Office, could bring up to £200m worth of business a year.
“For as long as we are members of the EU, the UK will continue to play a full and active role,” said Baroness Neville-Rolfe. Also stating that the Brexit deal should involve free trade in goods and services as “[W]e want to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market — and let European businesses do the same in the UK.” However, Baroness Neville-Rolfe further added that the decision “…should not be seen as pre-empting the UK’s objectives or position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU”.