Germany’s constitutional court has halted legislation to ratify in Europe’s effort to create a single patent system. The court received a complaint from an unnamed individual claiming that the UPC breaks German law, and thus Germany is unable to join. The complaint has been taken seriously enough that the court has directed Germany’s federal president not to put forward legislation to make the new system law.

Although at times it has been controversial, the unitary patent system has been in process for a number of years, so the German court decision caught everyone unaware. Following the UK decision to ‘Brexit’ [leave the European Union], many questioned whether it meant the end of the UPC, but the UK chose to ratify and it was suggested it was near completion. There have been conflicting views ranging from the death of the UPC, to lengthy delays, to full steam ahead.

However, no one expected the German courts to slam the brakes on the effort. Starting in 2014, European countries have been slowly ratifying the agreement. So far 12 of the 25 countries involved have done so, but critical to the agreement are the UK and Germany, given the percentage of patents and commerce that they represent (France ratified the agreement in 2014).

The case is, reportedly, going through an expedited process, so we should hear more details soon and get a decision relatively quickly, so the UPC is not dead yet.


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