UK takes significant step to ratifying the UPC agreement

A draft Statutory Instrument has just been published (here) which sets out in more detail how the UK Patents Act will be amended when the Unified Patent Court ("UPC") agreement comes into force.

It is expected that the Statutory Instrument will receive approval from both Houses of Parliament fairly quickly which will then enable the UK to take steps to ratify the UPC agreement.

The Statutory Instrument will amend UK Patent Law to include two new exceptions to infringement relating to plant breeding and computer programs.

The Statutory Instrument makes it clear that certain key provisions of existing UK patent law such as the provisions on compulsory licences and the right to continue use of an invention where such use began before the priority date will also apply to European patents with unitary effect.

The Statutory Instrument also makes it clear that the provisions of section 73(2) to (4) of the UK Patents Act will apply to European patents with unitary effect, meaning that the UKIPO will seek to prevent double patenting between a national UK patent and an European patent with unitary effect.  In particular, the UKIPO may seek to revoke a national UK patent where an European patent with unitary effect has been granted and the 9 month EPO Opposition period has expired.