EU states sign patent litigation agreement - photos
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EU states sign patent litigation agreement - photos

Twenty-four of the 27 EU member states today signed the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court

German minister signs

Each state now has to ratify the agreement. Thirteen countries, including France, Germany and the UK, must ratify it before it can come into effect.

The only states not to sign today were Spain, which opposes the unitary patent and UPC plans; Poland, which has some concerns; and Bulgaria, which is expected to sign in the near future.

UK's Vince Cable signs

The signing ceremony was presided over by Irish minister Richard Bruton, who said said the agreement was “a tangible expression of creating a single market in a very important area, the area of patents”.

He added: “it is incumbent on us to complete the patent reform process ... in the months ahead.”

In a speech yesterday, Commissioner Michel Barnier also urged member states to act to ratify the agreement and make sure it works in practice.

Irish minister Richard Bruton and other EU ministers

The Irish presidency has set out the benefits of the proposed system.

But many sceptics remain. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys in the UK said: “Experts in the patent system have real concerns about the long-term adverse effects the proposed new system is likely to have on the competitiveness of UK businesses.”

CIPA and other bodies are calling for an evidence-based economic impact assessment of the effect on the UK economy before Parliament is asked to ratify the agreement.

EU ministers at UPC signing ceremony

Read Managing IP’s blog post for discussion of what happens next.

All photos courtesy of the Council of the European Union

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