Window of opportunity for UK to invest in IP system

The German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) today published its long-awaited decision surrounding Germany’s participation in the Unified Patent Court (UPC), finding that the Act of Approval to the Agreement on a UPC is void.

It comes just two weeks after the UK government announced that it would not be ‘seeking involvement’ in the UPC.

The UK had already secured London as an important branch of the Central Division to deal with life sciences and chemistry, and also achieved rules for the UPC which are closely based on UK common law procedures in which UK lawyers have huge experience.

As such, the UK must mitigate the risks of not participating in the UPC by investing in its own patent litigation system and by appointing more technically qualified judges.

This could be achieved by using the money, and even the Court premises, it would have provided for the UPC in order to give the UK the best chance to remain a highly favoured jurisdiction for the resolution of patent disputes.

These actions would benefit the legal services community and their clients, as well as the UK economy, while also remaining consistent with the UK government’s aim of fostering innovation and creativity to bring the UK’s industrial strategy to life.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, said: “There is a crucially important window of opportunity to make this investment before the UPC is off and running.

“By increasing training, recruitment and by appointing more technically qualified judges to hear patent litigation matters, the UK could sustainably bolster its jurisdiction on the world stage.

“It is the availability of these judges – which has fallen recently – that is most crucial to a fast, high quality and reasonable cost system with which the UK can confidently expect to maintain a very substantial share of high value patent litigation.”

Next steps

If the UK is to become a global leader in innovation, creativity and knowledge leadership, the government must prioritise intellectual property (IP) and invest in the IP courts across all their areas of expertise to maintain and enhance their unique selling points:

  • a well-founded and stable IP jurisprudence
  • a thorough common law approach
  • speed
  • flexibility to be proportionate and cost effective
  • top quality judges producing well-reasoned and widely respected judgments

The vacant UPC premises in Aldgate could become the exclusive home of the UK IP courts and a remarkable centre of IP excellence.

These provisions would help cement the jurisdiction’s reputation for speed, flexibility and a judiciary experienced in intellectual property matters.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 0208 049 3928