Disappointment for the Unified Patent Court in Europe

March 2020

Disappointment for the Unified Patent Court in Europe

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) was envisioned to be the introduction of a single judicial system within the EU, with a single set of legal proceedings. The court would have exclusive competence in respect of European patents. Therefore, the establishment of the UPC was anticipated to make patent protection across Europe easier and more effective.

Less than one month ago, the UK said it would not be seeking involvement in the system, and so the future of the UPC seemed dependent on ratification by Germany.

This was not a foregone conclusion, with German UPC legislation the subject of a constitutional complaint - which was filed by Ingve Stjern in June 2017. This complaint advocated the UPC would breach current EU law and also raised questions to the accountability of the would-be UPC’s regulatory powers.

Today, the German Federal Constitutional Court upheld Stern’s complaint, as approval of the UPC agreement failed to pass due to an insufficient quorum. It may be that approval of the UPC is put to another vote but this is likely to be many months away if it is scheduled at all. This decision will be a major hammer blow to the UPC and raises the question as to whether it will ever come into force.

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