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The British Election May Have Just ‘Killed’ the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn might actually become the next Prime Minister. Photo credit: Sophie Brown.

Summary: With political turmoil in the UK, including a chaotic coalition with nationalists in it, UPC is again at the very bottom of all priorities and it’s possible that Conservatives will fail to form a government, throwing into disarray any promises previously made in relation to the UPC

TECHRIGHTS has hardly said anything about the UPC for a couple of weeks (due to absence and catchup time), but a lot has happened, especially in light of the British election. Why? Because the UPC is in a limbo, primarily because of the British. The election backfired badly on Theresa May (whose career is now uncertain and whose party might even let loose the Prime Ministerial position). Where does that leave the UPC? Let us clarify before the spin comes around, primarily from Team UPC (probably as early as Monday).

First, let’s start with a little bit of background and recent developments. The EPO‘s management obviously wants the UPC, but the impression we get from ordinary EPO staff is that they hate it. They know that the UPC would potentially doom them and end their careers, not to mention harm Europe. They would be correct to feel this way and we have written on the subject for nearly a decade. Even when it was known as “EU” or “Community” patent the benefits to Europe were dubious at best. It just made Europe more attractive to sue in, not to sue from. After several rebrands they decided to go with words like “unity” (and “unitary” or “unified”), basically marketing the same pile of dung under false pretenses.

“Even when it was known as “EU” or “Community” patent the benefits to Europe were dubious at best.”We often joke about the pronunciation of UPC, which is of course just an acronym. We could perhaps pronounce it “oopsie”, one person told me, “as UP oop C says its name…”

This proposition came up after I had suggested that we collectively pronounce UPC as “oops” or “whoopsi”, much like “Oh Oh XML” (OOXML) for OpenXML, which was neither open nor XML (it has binary enclosures in the tree).

The name aside, what is the UPC really? It’s the wet dream of the litigation industry and its biggest clients, which are more often than not foreign (not European, just hoping to sue in Europe, taking action against European companies).

Looking at Managing IP (MIP) coverage prior to the election, it talked of “the delayed start of the UPC, the impending Brexit has cast a shadow of uncertainty over IP law.”

“No,” I’ve told MIP, “it’s not “delayed”, UPC might be dead in the UK but keep flogging this horse…”

“It’s the wet dream of the litigation industry and its biggest clients, which are more often than not foreign (not European, just hoping to sue in Europe, taking action against European companies).”For those who have not been paying attention, MIP is responsible for a lot of UPC propaganda. A lot. It recently issued yet another one of its infamous “progress reports” for the UPC — those that have us deluded into thinking that it’s all just a matter of time. It recently published “Are you braced for Brexit?” and “This article is brought to you by our Trademark Times 2017 sponsors…”

Yes, sponsors. Like those pro-UPC events that MIP keeps organising, filled with staked panels and typically some liars from Team Battistelli.

The truth of the matter is, the Preparatory Committee of the UPC has already pressed the brakes on progress and is mostly silent these days. There is no concrete, substantial preparation (except preparation of propaganda). Here is a pro-UPC blog, run by Team UPC itself, saying that according to the Preparatory Committee the “Unified Patent Court will not start operating this year” (that’s the headline). The key part:

The previously announced target date for the entry into operation of the Unified Patent Court, envisaged for December 2017, cannot be maintained. This has been reported by the UPC Preparatory Committee.

So once again they have lied or created false expectations. They do this every year. Why would anyone still trust anything they say? As a pro-UPC voice put it: “The previously announced target date for entry into operation of UPC, envisaged December 2017, cannot be maintained.” (linking to this official site)

IAM retweeted this and added: “The UPC won’t enter into force in December 2017. Whether it will in 2018 – or even ever – remains to be seen. Much depends on Brexit talks.”

“The truth of the matter is, the Preparatory Committee of the UPC has already pressed the brakes on progress and is mostly silent these days.”And now that Theresa May is in serious trouble it’s not even clear if there will be Brexit talks later this month as scheduled (some reports this morning said it would happen, citing May’s team, but it’s not clear if this team is about to get broadly sacked, just like May’s senior advisors). According to a new poll (to be added to daily links later today), 60% of Conservatives (actual insiders!) oppose May and another new poll says that half the public wants her to step down.

Incredible, eh? So much has changed so quickly.

CIPA, a malicious pressure group of patent law firms (it lies to the public, corrupts our politicians, helps patent trolls and so on), recently set up a seminar which according to this site further promotes the delusion of UPC inevitability. Who are these people kidding? Are they trying so hard to make lawyers synonymous with liars?

“McDonagh, an expert in this area, labeled it “patently unclear” and this lack of clarity means that the UPC remains in perpetual limbo, preventing any progress from being made.”Dr. Luke McDonagh, a scholar from London, responded to the result of the election by stating : “The most important issue of the day is, of course, what will happen to UK participation in Unified Patent Court?”

McDonagh, an expert in this area, labeled it “patently unclear” and this lack of clarity means that the UPC remains in perpetual limbo, preventing any progress from being made.

The other day we saw the lawyer’s press acknowledging some of the issue as follows:

The entry into operation of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will not occur in December 2017, the previously announced target date. This means the long-awaiting Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) regimes will not be up and running, at the earliest, until sometime in 2018.

Delays in the progress of national procedures concerning the ratification of the UPC Agreement and the participation in the Protocol on Provisional Application have been cited as the reason for the December 2017 target date being unable to be maintained. A revised target date has not yet been published.

They’ll then say 2019, 2020 and so on. Wait and watch. It’s becoming expensive and cumbersome for law firms that put many of their eggs in the UPC basket, notably the likes of Bristows, whose lies will be the subject of our next post. In Germany, Christopher Weber wrongly asserts or at least assumes that the the UPC is inevitable (money first, common sense later) when he writes: “More stalling by the UK could lead to fewer qualified judges applying for UPC. Plan B: UPC w/o UK.”

“By the time there’s clarity Battistelli might already be in a mental ward, the EPO utterly destroyed (many layoffs are expected), and people like Maas (UPC proponent) out of their job.”Yes, that might actually happen, but they cannot just dump the UK until it’s clear what is happening. The UK is under considerable political uncertainty at the moment (it’s all over the news this weekend), so Plan B won’t be considered for a long time to come, perhaps even years. By the time there’s clarity Battistelli might already be in a mental ward, the EPO utterly destroyed (many layoffs are expected), and people like Maas (UPC proponent) out of their job.

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