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Thursday, 16 April 2015

The IPKat is again Irate - more misinformation about the Unitary Patent Package

Time for rage!
This Kat has posted several times before when politicians, lawyers, and others who should know better, have put out materials about the Unitary Patent Package that are deceptive and misleading.

Today he has seen something that has ignited his ire even further - a post from the European Commission (responsible for initiating the legislation) and tweeted by the European Patent Office (responsible for granting patents and recording their unitary effect) that is simply drivel.  Here it is, with comments interpolated in red.

The Unitary Patent package – better protection for European innovators
[Even the title gets off to a bad start.  There is NOTHING in the Unitary patent that specifically helps European innovators - the advantages will be at least as great for non-European entities, and they will be shielded from some of the adverse effects]

A new agreement has smoothed the way for a truly unitary European patent – it will offer European inventors and innovators the comprehensive cover they need in the Single Market [well, no, at least Spain and Italy will be missing, and many more countries in the early years] at a fraction of the current cost [when will this rubbish idea stop being parroted? Particularly if the renewal fees are those recently suggested by the EPO, then the cost will be the same or higher for most users.  Only for those patentees who validate in nearly all countries, and then probably only if they maintain their patents for full term, is there hope that the cost may be a "fraction"].

“Growth from innovation is sustainable, emerging from organic development within businesses, rather than being created by expensive fiscal support or incentives from outside”, said Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Enterprises, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. As such, innovation and creativity are key to economic success for companies across the EU. Creating the right framework conditions for innovators is a central part of the European Commission’s work in this area and includes support for research and development initiatives and access to finance for newly founded SMEs. But it doesn’t stop there: once a product has been invented, businesses and individuals need access to a clear and affordable patenting process in order to protect it from counterfeiting and exploitation by third parties. That is where the new Unitary Patent package will come into play. [If this is to suggest that the Unitary Patent package will be any more materially "clear and affordable" to SMEs than a current European patent validated in a reasonable number of countries, then it is nonsense.  The process up to grant is identical, and the post-grant costs similar.]

Though European patents currently offer more extensive and better quality protection for inventions than almost any other patenting systems worldwide, the cost and regulatory burden of applying puts many businesses off – and some of these seek to protect their inventions via American patents instead [as though a US patent is somehow an alternative to a European patent.  If a company wants protection in Europe for their invention, a US patent is hardly going to assist - and is there any evidence for this statement?]. The need for a simpler and cheaper procedure has long been evident [here they clearly forgot to add "and the Unitary Patent does not satisfy this need".  The procedure is identical, and the costs for most patentees also similar].

A Unitary Solution
Innovators wishing to apply for a patent in Europe currently have the option of a national patent (valid in one Member State only), or a “European patent”, which nevertheless has to be applied [odd word - we normally use "validated" since you "applied" for the patent to the EPO; and in any case nothing has to be done after grant in non-translation London agreement countries until renewal fees are due] in each Member State separately – at a high cost [well, only high (relative to the Unitary Patent) if you want a large number of states, which many patentees elect not to]. Change is on the horizon, however, in the form of the so-called European unitary patent. In winter 2012/13, the EU introduced a package of regulations and agreements setting up a unitary patent and a centralised jurisdiction dealing with disputes relating to unitary patent but also classical European patents. The agreement is currently being ratified by the 25 Member States in which it will be valid. The unitary patent will exist as a third option alongside the two currently available patenting procedures in the EU, offering more choice for European businesses. Uniform protection for the covered invention will be provided across all 25 countries and the cost of administration – a single payable fee – will be € 5 000 [Where on earth has this come from?  A "single payable fee"?  And what does € 5 000 correspond to? It seems as though it may be something like the official fees for a European patent up to grant - but then "a single payable fee"?  No, a number of fees paid at different stages. And what about the renewal fees?  Are they not a "cost of administration"?]. The European Patent Office will have the authority to grant the new unitary patent as well as the current “classical” European patent. Additionally, the package establishes a Unified Patent Court, with clear [but actually rather complicated, given that it has three central divisions and a further number of local divisions] jurisdiction over infringement disputes. This means that creative European businesses [but disproportionately non-European businesses] will benefit twofold: from the lessened financial and administrative burden [No, again no!] of the patenting procedure and from the certainty regarding jurisdiction. The unitary patent will come into force as soon as 13 of the participating Member States, (including Germany, France and the UK) have ratified the agreement – expected by late 2015 or early 2016. The unitary patent will give businesses across the EU the certainty they need today to make the investments that benefit our economy tomorrow. [At this point, dear readers, your correspondent passed out]

This Kat wishes that if those wishing to foster support for the Unitary Patent Package cannot do it with the truth, they would keep quiet rather than propagating misleading untruths and half-truths.

UPDATE on Saturday 25 April - thanks to the kind Twitterer at Keltie LLP for alerting this Kat to the fact that the European Commission post commented on above has been taken down.  Is this a response to Kattiness?  At this time, we can only guess.

32 comments:

Michael Factor said...

The announcement is PR blurb. Of course it is total rubbish, but that is par for the course.

Does the America Invents Act help Americans to compete with cheap products from abroad. Not if you note the percentage of patent applications filed in the US with foreign applicants.

Does increasing copyright terms for an extra 20 years encourage Disney, Cliff Richards and others to create new works? Hardly.

Politicians are liars. So what's new?

Michael O'Keeffe said...

Maybe I am bisaed (a) as a translator and (b) because I live in Spain, but I think all non FR/EN/DE speakers get a bum deal. The solution is SOOO simple and inexpensive , I cant think why it has not come up ! Have the disclosure, but not the claims filed in a wordprocessor front end compliant tool to a computer translation software. Hold your howls, GIGO applies, if the text is structured, the MT result will be acceptable. let the PAs figure out the claims language, at least the technologiust could tell what they are looking at at close to zero. If you dont belive me, take any patent text (not claims0 and any MT software, run the MT once, find where the problems are, and rewruite the offending phrase until MT digestible.

Derek Freyberg said...

"And now, Mr. Smyth, tell us what you really think about the European Patent."
Outsider's (and amateur's because outsider's) view: the European Patent will help very few people, and almost certainly not help the people it is claimed that it will help. I can't see recommending it to a client.

ron said...

In my experience, the US-only strategy does have a scintilla (and no more than a scintilla) of truth about it, although not for the reasons given in the press release. When I was in industrial practice one of our subsidiary companies did find that filing only in the US did give it adequate protection for their new product. Adopting this strategy was nothing to do with the cost and complexity of filing in Europe, but due to their having publicly displayed their new product without having applied for patent protection, and then being made aware of potential infringement of a competitor's patent. We had just enough time to file in the US within the 12 month grace period. This was then promoted as a deliberate strategy, having regard to the fact that, if they couldn't sell in the US, then sales in the rest of the world would never be sufficient to cover the tooling-up costs. The same applied to their competitors.

Press releases like this are clearly not intended for those who can see through the spin, but that's politics for you.

Derek Freyberg said...

@ron:
A couple of thoughts on what you said, from a US perspective.
(1) If you are a US entity, compare the cost of protecting your invention in the US (a 350MM-person market) with the cost in Europe (roughly the same population, but in 30-some countries). Though a lot of the total cost of obtaining a patent is professional fees, the official fees are significantly cheaper in the US at the prosecution/grant stage, there's no need for translations at grant (EPO requires claim translation into French/German, and there are a lot of countries that require either claim or full application translation), and there's just no comparison on annuities/maintenance fees on a per-capita basis (i.e. if you go into the smaller countries in Europe and not just the Big 3). If you don't have global ambitions, you may well settle for US-only patenting on a value basis alone.
[I wonder how well the patent system would work in the US if we had 50 state patent offices - and therefore 50 annuities even if we had central examination a la EPO/Unitary Patent. We do have state trademark offices, but I think most people forgo state registration if they can get Federal registration through interstate sale.]
(2) It remains to be seen how the AIA grace period will play out, since third party disclosures within the year will now be prior art unless you publish first, but it was certainly true that the US gave you an opportunity to patent that was unavailable elsewhere because of public disclosure/sale - the Cohen-Boyer patent being a classic example.
(3) Anecdote: I worked for a major oil company for a while many years ago. It filed a lot of US applications, but very few foreigns - just did not consider them worth the cost/effort. Their current thinking may be different.
So, in my mind there is a lot more than a scintilla of truth.

Anonymous said...

Ron, that's not a strategy I would go shouting about as being deliberate. If the US market proves to be huge, and likewise Europe and elsewhere, you've screwed up your chances of dominating the non-US markets because of the non-patenting strategy. Congrats.

If there's one thing I agree with Darren on, this is probably it.

Tufty the Cat said...

Whether the unitary patent comes into force may depend on the outcome of the UK general election. I can't see the UK ratifying it if there is a possibility of a referendum on EU membership, and without the UK it can't come into force. Is this why the UK has not ratified yet, or is there some other reason?

slartibartfast said...

Tufty: the UK does appear to be dragging its heels on ratification, but then so does Germany (and, for that matter, most other countries - only 6 ratifications so far, with Luxembourg having just voted to become the 7th).

Last year I had an enquiry from a German client asking whether the UK was likely to ratify, and what the procedure would be. I rang up the UKIPO to enquire and got put through to somebody in the department responsible for implementing the Unitary Patent. They were extremely evasive, particularly when I asked for details of what the ratification procedure would involve - which I would have thought would simply have been a matter of following established Parliamentary practice. If anyone can enlighten me, I'd love to know.

As to the possible impact of a referendum: Article 89 of the UPC Agreement states that the Agreement shall enter into force "on the first day of the fourth month after the deposit of the thirteenth instrument of ratification [...] including the three Member States in which the highest number of European patents had effect in the year preceding the year in which the signature of the Agreement takes place".

This does not specifically name the UK. If the UK holds a referendum and leaves the EU it will (obviously) cease to be a Member State and so on my reading of Article 89 the "compulsory ratification" states for the Agreement to enter into force will become DE, FR and whichever other country is next in line after the UK - a "Brexit" (how I hate that term) won't necessarily torpedo the Agreement. Note also that the UK won't leave the EU immediately upon the result of the referendum, so it could still ratify the Agreement during the intervening period, as far as I'm aware.

Michael O'Keeffe said...

If one had to design an experiment to determine if reducing the cost of a community wide patent is a overwhelming reason to ratify the Unitary Patent, then the UK would be it, as the language issues are sidelined (>80% are filed in English currently), so I guess this proves that the UP is somehow fatally flawed ?

Tufty the Cat said...

Very interesting. Thanks for the clarification.

Darren Smyth said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Ron – like you, I have known some UK entities file in the US only, but, like you, this was to take advantage of the (pre-AIA) grace period provisions when there had been a disclosure, so domestic protection was not available.

Derek – I agree with everything that you have said concerning a US-only strategy for US entities. The point can be expressed much more generally – if you don’t have global ambitions, any company may choose to file only in their local jurisdiction. UK companies often file UK only; Japanese ones often file only in Japan. But I think it is over-generous to the Commission post to suggest that this gives “more than a scintilla of truth” to what was said. Firstly, it was not talking about US entities specifically – in fact, the immediate prior context suggests that it was referring mainly to European businesses and SMEs in particular. Secondly, and here you may accuse me of being over-semantic, the force of “instead” implies that entities that would file ONLY in Europe if it were cheaper have chosen “instead” to file ONLY in the USA. Not that entities that would file in the USA anyway have chosen not to additionally file in Europe. Thirdly, if non-European entities choose not to file in Europe because of the high cost at present, this is actually an advantage to European businesses, because a third-party patent represents a cost to them. The economic analysis undertaken by Poland concluded that the Unitary Patent would be bad for Poland, primarily because it would disadvantage Polish businesses by hugely increasing the number of patent rights that would be extant in Poland. (IPKat commenters have noted a similar issue in relation to other jurisdictions where fewer European patents are validated, such as Denmark).

Darren

ron said...

Perhaps I should have made it clear that the situation I was describing (the realization that patent protection was desirable after public disclosure of the invention) was the only one I have come across where European companies had only applied for a patent in the USA. I did file a number of US applications for companies who belatedly changed their mind about filing patents. I think that saying it was a deliberate strategy in that particular case was really no more than face-saving.

The assertion in the press release is clearly nonsense.

Tim Jackson said...

The unitary patent relies on the setting up of the Unified Patent Court. Lots of work is going on, but it might be 2017 before that Court opens its doors.

Meanwhile, the unified patent will come into force automatically, triggered by ratification by 13 countries. As the ratifications come in dribs and drabs, there is a risk that this could happen before the Court is ready.

The solution is for a key country (whose ratification is essential) to hold back until the Court is ready to roll. The UK is one of those key countries.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to what a lot of people (and cats) appear to believe, the Unified Patent Court would no longer require ratification by the UK, if the UK was to leave the EU. It requires ratification by thirteen EU member states "including the three Member States in which the highest number of European patents had effect in the preceding year". This does indeed *currently* include the UK, but if the UK was no longer a EU member, it would be a different set of countries. Of course, the next EU Member State with the highest number of European patents in effect is probably...Italy, which has signed to the UPC, even if it won't take part in the Unitary Patent. I can imagine that the Italian ratification would be less than straightforward, and that the general turmoil if the UK was to leave the EU would probably scuttle most ambitious initiatives such as the UPCA, but it is wrong to say that the UPCA *requires* Britain to stay in the EU...

Darren Smyth said...

To Anon at 22:16 - what you say is correct, but I am not sure I have seen anyone suggest otherwise. The same point was made in an earlier comment by slartibartfast. Where have you seen the view that the UPCA required Britain to stay in the EU?

Roufousse T. Fairfly said...

IIRC, Germany had been the last state to ratify the EPC2K.

This probably isn't written anywhere, but from what I heard this is the result of a quiet deal made between the EPOrg and the treaty keeper.

Had all large states ratified the treaty at an early date, the latter would have entered into force at an unpredictable date as soon as the sufficient number of ratifications by small states had been received.

Considering the number of modifications in procedural law, an overnight transition would have caused havoc in the patent office operations.

With the German deal, the EPOrg essentially decided on a suitable date for performing the cutover.

There might be similar considerations at play with the UP, notwithstanding of the flaws in the treaty, or national second thoughts.

The Cat That Walks by Himself said...

Re: There might be similar considerations at play with the UP, notwithstanding of the flaws in the treaty, or national second thoughts.

I see few similarities with the EPC. The EPC has created a "road", which is alternative to national ones, while the UPCA will take into exclusive exploitation "parts of national ways".

And, with respect to EPC 2000, it was a revision, which cannot be compared with a first ratification of a treaty.

The Cat That Walks by Himself said...

RE: similar considerations

The EPC represents non-exclusive harmonisation of administrative power of Member States, while the UPCA is exclusive harmonisation of judicial power.

Old Man said...

The Unitary Patent is something which seems more wanted by politicians than by specialists. There were four attempts to create a "European" patent within the European Union (drafts for a patent convention within the EU). They were not successful for the same reasons then, than later: languages and judiciary. The PCT pushed the Europeans to agree on something, and the result was the split in granting and in the effects of the patent. One was the Munich conference of 1973 which led to the EPC, an open Convention not limited to EU members. Another one was the Luxemburg conference of 1975 which can be considered as the predecessor of the UP. The Luxemburg Convention was still born. It is often forgotten that the UP is a resuscitation of the Luxemburg conference of 1975. If industry would have been keen on it, it could have lobbied to bring it to life much earlier. Having torpedoed the EPLA (not invented there) the Commission needed to do something and the regulations on enhanced cooperation came about, with its consequence the UPC. Hearing now than some industrialists in Europe are keenly waiting for the UPC sounds a bit hypocritical.
What is to be held from a central court in 3 locations? This is a typical Brussels compromise. But this has nothing to do with hard facts.
The UPC is primarily of interest to industry outside Europe, and this point is occulted by the promoters of the UPC. It is nice to see that the drivel published in Brussels does not impress everybody in the European IP world.

Ugly American said...

I do not have a dog in this fight, but would point out that Old Man is using a variant of the logical fallacy of "if it was so good, it would have been done already."

It is not at all difficult to see that there is more than one "voice" to be heard and that the evolution of any law necessarily reflects a tug of war between the several voices.

I think it is not reasonable to assume that this tug of war has been between "politicians" and "specialists." I think it far closer to the mark to instead view that there are BOTH "politicians" and "specialists" in each and every camp of the separate voices.

I give no credit then to a post that wishes to play the "this particular view" is better because of some unsubstantiated "we are specialists and they are mere politicians" rhetoric.

Again - this is an observation from one without a dog in the fight.

Old Man said...

Without entering a big discussion, I think Ugly American did not understand what was said: the Luxemburg Convention would have been obtainable a long time ago. Why should we wait 35 years to get something working which was conceived a long time ago? There must be reasons. The push for the Unitary Patent and the UPC was given by Brussels, and the haggling which took place in Brussels is illustrated by a "Central Court" in 3 locations. This is a typical politician approach. No well reasoned specialist would have ever suggested such a construction.
Specialists are certainly not above politicians, but why did it take 35+ years to move on this point. There was simply no political will to do so. As some members of the EU will not consider joining the unitary patent, for purely economic reasons, e.g. Poland, what is then unitary after all?

Ugly American said...

Old Man states that he does not want to get into a big discussion - then repeats the very fallacy that I point out....

Old Man again assumes his own conclusions about the labeling of "politician" versus "specialist" and fails to recognize that there are likely "politicians" and "specialists" EACH on BOTH sides, and that part of his fallacy is the assumption of authority that "He" speaks for all "specialists" and thus "his" must be the better view.

Again - I have no dog in this fight - and only point out what I see as a position of weakness masquerading as a position of strength (and I don't buy it).

Anonymous said...

Did I sniff too much catnip, or could the drivel from Brussels be influenced by the content of the TTIP negotiations? Can someone provide me with a sorely needed sanity check?

Lady Kat O'Nine-Tails

Anonymous said...

Is there then nothing good at all?

How about cheaper and uniform protection in all the participating member states?

The argument that having a patent in DE+GB+FR suffices is just as bad as the argument that having a patent in the US is an alternative to protection in Europe. It is true that currently very few EP patents are validated in more than a handful of member states, but that obviously is due to the high costs involved in protecting the invention in all states.

That high cost will be significantly lowered. In addition, having to deal with only a single entity for validation and renewal fees instead of with all the national patent offices individually must save a considerable amount of overhead costs.

I don't know, but even TOP 5 does not seem that bad of a deal to me.

And I haven't even mentioned the advantages of a single litigation procedure.

That the London agreement already brought down translation costs may be true, but it should be clear that the London agreement was only a helpful stop gap measure on the way to something better.

Not everything is as great as it could have been, especially the distributed "central division", but I find it remarkable that nobody seems to be able to admit that the UPP has clear advantages for industry.

Could it be that attorneys are fearing the impact of the unitary patent on their profession? (An EPO study from 2009 predicts a €400 million reduction of costs for attorneys, translators and lawyers. But I'd think UK attorneys should be OK, though.)

Btw, that the UPP is good for European inventors in no way contradicts that it is also good for non-European inventors.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that Lady Kat O'Nine-Tails has a point: it makes sense that multinational users of patents with a large base in the US would wish for less trouble when obtaining and maintaining protection in Europe, and they could easily make it a condition of entering into TTIP.

I am presently reading two books. One is sadly essentially nostalgic and to a high degree confirms what I have gleaned from 40 years of study of the history of technology and the role of patents. It is:

Peter Kurz:
"Weltgeschichte des Erfindungsschutzes. Erfinder und Patente im Spiegel der
Zeiten",
Carl Heymanns Verlag 2000 (now Wolters-Kluwer)
published on behalf of the Patentanwaltskammer.

The other is:

Peter Drahos:
“The Global Governance of Knowledge. Patent Offices and their Clients”
CUP 2010.

I consider both books essential reading for the modern European Patent Attorney.

I note that SUEPO already read this book in 2010, and they published an interview with Peter Drahos (document ex10162cp).

I have not finished the book by Peter Drahos, but until now there has been nothing that would remove my impression of multinational company involvement with the development of the European patent system. To me there is little doubt that the TTIP has something to do with the timing of the renewed interest in the Luxembourg Convention. There is a mistrust in the general public about the future of health and safety and the maintenance of the supremacy of the state under what appears to be the current proposals, but multinational companies will win in the end. Most likely the US negotiators are in reality highly placed officers in the companies in question. I noticed at the 1991 Diplomatic Conference for the Revision of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and its preliminaries that whereas the delegates from almost all states were either public servants in the relevant national ministries or the head of the Geneva diplomatic representation to the UN, those from the US were representing Pioneer and other seed companies but had merely been given official status by the US government.

George Brock-Nannestad

Ugly American said...

George Brock-Nannestad,

If I can add one (not-so-small) correction:

Multinationals are NOT "US" - even if their headquarters are here.

Big Corp is trans-national. They owe allegiance to NO country (and will move operations to the lowest cost factor site anywhere in the world).

Patent law remains sovereign law, and in a real (albeit dwindling) sense, law meant to place that nation in a better place (even above other nations). The trans-national upsets that aim, and thus, when a sovereign (any sovereign) is captured, you can be sure that the revised purpose is to the benefit, not of the sovereign (nor of progress) but to the benefit of the large established entity.

And that, that is truly ugly.

Darren Smyth said...

I have amended the main post to indicate at the end that the post seems to have been taken down. Perhaps someone at the Commission reads the IPKat.

Anonymous said...

A baker from the Patent bakery quotes...

"The unitary patent is actually the third ‘patent layer’ in the European Union. The first one is composed of the national patent systems, whereby most national patent offices still grant patents independently from the European Patent Office. The second one is the current ‘European patent’ that can be enforced in the chosen countries for protection. In other words, whereas all other patent systems in the world, including in the USA and in China, are governed by a single patent granted by a single patent office, Europe distinguishes itself by three layers that are not particularly coherent. An inventor with a unitary patent could be challenged by competitors who secured small incremental innovations granted independently by some national patent offices. And national patents confer the same legal power than a European patent in a given jurisdiction. In other words, the new system will not reduce the perceived complexity, but rather worsen it, especially for young innovative companies. The only solution is straightforward. National patent offices should stop granting patent. This does not mean disappearing, but reorienting the core business towards registration services for priority filings, search services, advisory services, and setting up innovation observatories."

Bruno van Pottelsberghe on 17th December 2012

Anonymous said...

A baker from the Patent bakery quotes...

"Fees. Even if the unitary patent radically reduces translation costs, it is still likely to be prohibitively expensive. The renewal fees are not yet publicly available (to the best of my knowledge), but informal sources suggest that it could be as high as 65 per cent of the total renewal fees for raised each year by the 25 national patent offices. Needless to say, this is much higher than a protection in six countries with the current system (six being what the business sector is ready to pay for). Such a system would lead to a cost of about 40 to 50K EUR for ten years of protection, or 10 times more than in the USA or Japan. True, small firms and universities will benefit from smaller renewal fees, probably – no formal agreement has been published so far- half the ‘regular’ ones, which would lead to about 20k EUR, 4 to 5 times higher than in the USA. The solution here should be to reduce fees to the equivalent four countries’ renewal fees, which is what the business sector is ready to pay with the current system . Additionally, substantially lower fees must be adopted for SMEs."

Bruno van Pottelsberghe on 17th December 2012

Darren Smyth said...

Thank you Baker for the quotations.

Just to be clear in relation to your second comment, we do have a renewal fee proposal (actually two proposals) from the EPO, linked above:

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/revealed-epo-finally-proposes-level-of.html

This is pegged at 4 or 5 countries, so much cheaper than may have seemed likely in 2012.

Anonymous said...

A baker from the Patent bakery quotes...

“The litigation process. The trust that innovators put into a patent system, and hence the propensity to use it, depends on the perceived effectiveness of the litigation system. The political negotiations on the central litigation Court(s) have distributed the litigation authorities across three countries (France, the UK and Germany), according to scientific and technological criterion. This is obviously less optimal than having one centralized place. The challenge here is to make sure that the users of the system understand and trust the system in a short period of time. As many innovations encompass several technological fields, the three courts system will actually lead to a forum shopping system. This forum shopping will be driven by litigation practices: the UK system is known to be fast and expensive, the German system is more affordable, relatively fast, and includes many technically qualified judges. The challenge here is to design a centralized litigation system that is trusted by innovators and entrepreneurs. The key issue is to secure a minimum level of convergence between the litigation processes of the three countries.”

Bruno van Pottelsberghe on 17th December 2012

ExaMinus said...

Coming back to a possible "Brexit":

Surely the UPC cannot have its seat, or a branch of its seat, in a country which is not a member of the EU or which will no longer be a member of the EU. Should the Brexit happen, a new diplomatic conference would be needed to amend the UPCA and remove any reference to a branch of the central division in London. This could be as simple as relocating litigation on letters A and C of the IPC to the seat in Paris. But it may involve a new round of horse trading about a another location for the third branch of the central division. Or someone could open Pandora's Box and insist that some substantial articles of the UPCA be rewritten...
In any case, the amended UPCA would need to be ratified anew.

A Brexit might not be lethal to the UPC but, if I am correct, it would cause a good deal of additional trouble and add further delay.

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