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EU: Unified Patent Court

Volume 571: debated on Tuesday 3 December 2013

My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State for Justice, Lord McNally, has made the following written ministerial statement:

The United Kingdom Government have decided to opt in to the proposed regulation amending regulation 1215/2012—the Brussels I recast regulation—on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

In December 2102 an agreement was reached on two regulations and an international agreement, laying the ground for the creation of a Unified Patent Court (UPC) in the European Union. The UPC will be split into three central divisions, with London hosting the healthcare division.

In order for the UPC to come into effect, it is necessary to make an amendment to the recently recast Brussels I regulation, which deals with the rules of jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments, including intellectual property and patent litigation. The proposed amendment provides for the UPC to be recognised as a “Court” for the purposes of the Brussels I regulation. In particular, it establishes its jurisdictional rules in respect of defendants domiciled in non-EU countries. The intention is that the UPC will come into being shortly after the recast Brussels I regulation in January 2015. The position adopted by the United Kingdom in negotiations has secured redrafts of the original text which make the scope and limitations of the proposed amendment clearer.

The basis on which the amendment is made is under article 81 of the treaty of the functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The protocol to title V of the TFEU on the United Kingdom’s opt in therefore applies.

The Government believe that the proposed amendment creating the UPC will be of tangible benefit to the United Kingdom’s legal economy and patent litigation business. Costs associated with the new unitary patent—which will have effect in all contracting member states to the UPC agreement—will be significantly lower than those which operate at present. The Government believe that it is in the United Kingdom’s interest to participate.