As we discussed in a previous post here, the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee met on 10 March 2020 to examine the impact that the UK's non participation in the EU’s Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent (UP) system would have on UK businesses, UK inventors and the UK Courts. That same day the Chair, Lord Morris of Aberavon, wrote to the new IP Minister, Amanda Solloway MP (Derby North) to 'confirm recent media reports that the “UK will not be seeking involvement” in the UPC and the associated unitary patent?'
And then we waited for a response.
Ms Solloway replied on 24 March 2020, although her letter has only recently been published by the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee. The important statements in her answer are:
'... the Government published our approach to negotiations with the EU on 27th February. This set out our vision for future cooperation between legally autonomous sovereign equals. It ruled out any obligation for our laws to be aligned with the EU's, or for the EU's institutions to have any jurisdiction in the UK. That explicitly included the Court of Justice of the EU.
Continued participation in the Unified Patent Court would mean ceding jurisdiction over key patent disputes in the UK to a court that is bound to apply and respect the supremacy of EU law, including judgments of the CJEU. Participating in such a system would be incompatible with our overall approach to future relations with the EU ... Consequently, the Government will not be seeking the UK’s continued participation in the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court.'
Given the well-publicised UK strategy for Brexit negotiations and the various unofficial statements from the PM spokesperson and UKIPO that the UK would not seek membership of the UPC, Ms Solloway's response or reasoning is hardly surprising. It does, however, provide an end point to what has been an extended period of back-and-forth and 'what-ifs' since the Brexit referendum regarding the UK's potential involvement in the UPC and UP project.
As noted in our previous post here, we now turn our attention to Germany to see if Germany is able to re-ratify the UPC Agreement and salvage the UPC and UP project.
the Government will not be seeking the UK’s continued participation in the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court.