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Policy

U.K. to ratify single EU patent system

by Glenn Hess, special to C&EN
December 5, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 48

The U.K. government confirmed last week that it will ratify an agreement to establish a unified patent system throughout the EU, even as the country prepares to exit the bloc by 2019. Questions remain whether the U.K. will be able to participate in the system after leaving the EU. But the ratification decision suggests the government will seek to keep close legal and regulatory ties to Europe. “We will seek the best deal possible as we negotiate a new agreement with the EU,” says Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Britain’s minister for intellectual property. Under the new regime, businesses will be able to protect and enforce their patent rights across Europe with a single patent and through a single legal system. A branch of the new Unified Patent Court, planned for London, will settle disputes in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, and medical technology industries. Currently, patents have to be registered and enforced in individual countries. But patents will continue to be examined and granted by the European Patent Office in Munich. The unified patent system is on course to take effect in 2017.

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