The United Kingdom will finally not be a party to the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The UK government confirmed that participating in a court that applies European Union law and is bound by the Court of Justice of the European Union is incompatible with the post-Brexit objective of becoming an autonomous nation.
Being part of the UPC is necessary to belong to the unitary patent system as a whole, so it is now clear that the United Kingdom will not join this system either. This is a new challenge to the already eventful journey of the UPC, not yet in force and pending an constitutional review by German courts (update: the constitutional German court has deemed the instrument of accession to the system as void).
Although a European patent already exists, it works as a bundle of national patents, with separate translation and renewal requirements in different countries. Infringement procedures in one country have essentially no effect on others, which sometimes leads to multiple lawsuits with respect to the same European patent in different countries. The creation of the UPC was intended to create a single court for infringement and revocation procedures of European patents, with decisions applicable to all signatory territories.
In spite of its good intentions, the UPC remains controversial. One of the main purported benefits of the UPC is lowering the time and cost of patent enforcement and challenge. Nonetheless, innovators are also wary as the risk of potentially falling victim to a EU-wide revokation and may prefer the current system.
All EU countries except Spain, Poland and Croatia are at present a part of the UPC.