Brexit – what now for the Unified Patent Court?

The UK’s vote to leave the European Union could have significant consequences for the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (the "Unitary Patent System"). There has been a great deal of speculation. Here are the main questions:

Will the Unitary Patent System still come into effect in some form?

It is too early to have a clear view. This will depend in large part on whether there continues to be sufficient support for the initiative from stakeholders, including business. A key factor in that determination is whether the UK will participate, which currently remains uncertain. However, in our view, even if the UK does not participate, the new system offers sufficient benefits, and is sufficiently well-progressed, that it is more likely than not to proceed in some form.        

Could the UK participate in the Unitary Patent System after Brexit?

It should be legally possible for the UK to participate in the Unitary Patent System after Brexit. Whether or not it is politically achievable is less certain at this stage.              

Is the proposed timetable for implementation still feasible?

Regardless of the UK's participation or lack thereof, revisions to the current UPC Agreement and discussions in respect of a potential new location for the life sciences seat of the central division (currently named as London) seem inevitable, and we expect that this will result in delays to the proposed timetable for implementation.   

Our dedicated Unitary Patent System microsite considers Brexit’s likely impact and also provides further information including FAQs, an interactive map and some strategic considerations which should be assessed.

Through its EU Referendum Legal Working Group, Linklaters has been considering the many potential legal and business impacts of, and outcomes arising from, the UK's referendum decision to leave the EU, including in the IP field. Our key contacts for such inquires are listed here, and we encourage you to raise your questions with any of them, or any of your usual Linklaters contacts.