The United Kingdom takes a significant step forwards towards ratifying the Unified Patent Court ("UPC") Agreement

The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and has now passed into law as the Intellectual Property Act 2014.

Section 17 of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 makes provision for the Secretary of State to ratify the UPC agreement.

According to a press release from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills “It is expected that the new measures will come into force from October 2014, with all measures implemented by late 2015.”  It is understood that the United Kingdom is expected to ratify the UPC Agreement by the time of the next General Election (7 May 2015).

Assuming that the United Kingdom does indeed ratify the UPC Agreement by the end of March 2015 (when Parliament will be dissolved), it will still be necessary for the UK Government to deposit the United Kingdom’s ratification instrument with the European Commission.  However, there can be a delay between a country ratifying the Agreement and actually depositing the ratification instrument with the European Commission.  For example, Malta is understood to have ratified the UPC Agreement on 21 January 2014 but has not yet deposited its instrument of ratification with the European Commission.

To date, France and Austria have ratified the UPC Agreement and have deposited their instrument of ratification with the European Commission (see status of ratification). 

According to Article 89 of the UPC Agreement the unitary patent system will take effect 3 months after 13 countries (including the UK, France and Germany) have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Phil Jeffrey, Partner