back to article Heard of Brexit? The UK vows to join Europe’s Patent Titanic

Astonishment has greeted the UK’s promise to join Europe’s Unified Patent Court despite Brexit. It’s a stunning victory for the nation's powerful legal lobby. The FT euphemistically notes that “the legal system” will be around “£200m a year” richer. Meaning: you know who will be £200m richer. The announcement was made by the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awww, British lawyers are so cute...

    ... deciding among themselves what bits and pieces they want to keep from the EU, and what amount they want written down the bill - without ever considering that 27 other nations will have their say in this.

    Somehow, I'm afraid that one single nation will be disappointed in the end, not 27. But hey, who knows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Awww, British lawyers are so cute...

      Why just British Lawyers?

      It is the whole of the British Establishment, led by his exaultedness, the Hair Organizational Challenged Quarter Turk. They all are cute in their delusion that they get to pick and mix from a buffet table.

      It will be entertaining to observe when the EU tells them to go back to their table and order from a set menu with 2-3 options. Tops.

      Nothing personal, just business. The public opinion on the continent from pro-UK in June has dropped to up to anything between 53% and 80% anti-UK. The 3 lunatics, Govenoccio and Teresa Vissarionovich have been instrumental in getting to this point. Similarly, businesses on the continent have started to realize that once Britain is relieved from its financial duties with regards to Eu clearing and Eu stocks it has f*** all buying power to be a market of relevance. There is also money to be made once all of that goes across the channel back to Europe too. Once again, the 3 lunatics have been a key driver in getting to this point. We should applaud them. Applause.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Awww, British lawyers are so cute...

        It will be entertaining to observe when the EU tells them to go back to their table and order from a set menu with 2-3 options. Tops.

        As a Brexiteer, I do want out, meaning out. If that's goodbye to the single market, I don't mind. If there's a financial impact, I can take that. If the City gets shrunk, good. The EU isn't some go ahead, fast growth club - it is a group of mostly ageing, sclerotic, protectionist economies riding on Germany's coat tails. And even the Germany economic miracle is in large part an artifact of the misbegotten € project.

        But regardless, the various leaked draft of EU documents show that they're now writing documents that allow for the participation of third party nations (in for example the energy sector "Third Package). There's precious little for the UK in remaining in the EU "internal energy market", so that suggests the Eurocrats are leaning towards compromise. Same with EU nations - if Germany wants to lose a (net) billion quid a year of exports, that'll hurt them more than us.

        1. XandiK

          Re: Awww, British lawyers are so cute...

          Again, arguing against a common patent scheme that is valid everywhere is like protesting against bus tickets that are valid for more than one bus stop. Or against passports that are valid for more than one country. It is amazing what the obsession with Brexit does to people.

      2. fruitoftheloon
        Happy

        @AC: Re: Awww, British lawyers are so cute...

        AC,

        ooi how many jobs and resultant tax income to the treasury is dedicated to Euro clearing, as a function of 'total employment and UK tax take' for our financial services as a whole?

        Just wondered, as I assume you would know!

        Kind regards,

        Jay.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Awww, British lawyers are so cute...

      Don't worry about it. 27 today, 26 next year, then 25, 24, 23...

  2. John Mangan

    So if there are 38 members of EPO . .

    and non-EU members are specifically excluded from UPC then what are the other ten members doing/going to do?

    (EU=28, Britain not in UPC but presumably in EPO - article doesn't make clear - so ten 'ghost' members).

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: So if there are 38 members of EPO . .

      It's just a snitchy article with no attempt to verify what he read in a tweet earlier today.

      Best ignored.

    2. dochego

      Re: So if there are 38 members of EPO . .

      EPO (38 countries, including Albania, Serbia, Turkey) != UPC (25 countries, according to their website)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"

    More proof that Shakespeare really IS the greatest playwright of all time!! :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's kill all the clients instead

      That way the lawyers will have nothing to do.

    2. jaduncan

      Re: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"

      Given that the character saying it was suggesting steps towards establishing an autocracy, it suggests that you, the article author, and many others have rather missed the point.

    3. The First Dave

      Re: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers"

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the good king was being somewhat ironic?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly surprising...

    ...considering it's the same bloody lawyers that are fighting tooth and nail to keep us in the EU and will most probably end up succeeding in their aim.

    Shakespeare's advice has never been more apt!

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Hardly surprising...

      bloody lawyers that are fighting tooth and nail to keep us in the EU

      One of the consequences of the way that law works is that there will be an approximately equal number of bloody lawyers that are fighting tooth and nail to get us out. So, trebles all round, then.

      One of my relatives recently trained as a barrister and an early experience in court was of his opposite number having forgotten which side he was on and making two equally-eloquent pleadings both for and against his client, asking for one to be struck from the record...

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Hardly surprising...

        Right. It's always a capital mistake to assume that lawyers are invested in the outcome of a dispute.

        What they're invested in is prolonging the dispute, by every means available. Such as, for instance, committing to a way forward that will foreseeably - indeed, by design - run into another dispute a little way down the path.

        Hence this decision right here.

  5. Pat Att

    This is not the best source of legal information

    I believe the author is trying to spin something here that doesn't match reality. The Unified Patent Court is nothing to do with the European Patent Office. The EPO will continue to grant patents as it always has, but at the grant stage the applicant will have the option of choosing, effectively, an EU-wide patent, rather than the individual country patents that are currently available. Then, the EU-wide patent will come under the auspices of the Unified Patent Court. It is, at that point, nothing to do with the EPO anymore. This sentence: Although the regulation empowers local courts to handle patents, which in theory should require less central bureaucracy, the EPO has morphed into a bureaucracy of over 7,000 staff. therefore makes no sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is not the best source of legal information

      Very true! The Register/author is entitled to have a position on patents, but I would say that there needs to be some care with the facts, or do we just go with this bias-confirming post-truth stuff.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is not the best source of legal information

      Are you seriously suggesting that AO is trying to wedge an EU 'story angle' into something which relates to a largely separate arrangement just because it has 'European' in the name? Shame on you!!!

  6. The JP

    Not a money spinner for lawyers...

    ...actually a lot of UK patent lawyers were hoping the UPC would die a death as they make more money from a fragmented national patent system than they would do under a unified Europe wide patent system.

    Presumably this was instead driven by industry that wants a simpler and more efficient patent system but I guess "The first thing we do, let's kill all the [businessmen]" isn't such a good catchphrase.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This article is a load of horse sh*t

    As a UK Patent Attorney, I have to say that this article is the biggest load of sh*te.

    The EPO is established to reduce bureaucracy involved in filing patent applications separately in the national patent offices of different countries, each with different requirements. It saves applicants seeking protection in more than one or two European countries and indeed the whole system a shitload of money, has driven up standards and greatly harmonised the law across Europe to the extent that third parties operating in markets across Europe now have a higher degree of certainty as to what they can and can't do without infringing competitors' patents. The patent granting process in Europe is all the better for the EPO and we are seen as being the world-leading jurisdiction for patent law and standards.

    The pan-EU court of litigation in the form of the UPC will do the same for patent litigation, improving access to justice for patent holders and defendants of litigation actions and bringing us on a par with the US. If it were to go ahead without the UK being a part of It the UK and UPC and U.K. Companies would all be poorer with the result.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: This article is a load of horse sh*t

      Thank you. I thought it was shite but IANAL. I certainly didn't think it was surprising - after all, one of the advantages of European institutions is that we share resources and costs with many other countries, as well as giving ourselves smoother access to the whole market, and strengthening our position vs, for example, the US behemoth.

      My goodness, now I think of it, those arguments work for lots of European institutions, not just the UPC. Maybe it would be a good idea to be a member of all of them? I wonder how we can achieve that - it would be worth billions per year to the country. It would get rid of those queues of thousands of lorries tied up in paperwork in Dover and Folkestone, too. Maybe the Prime Minister Mr Heath has an idea how we could take this idea forward.

    2. The questioner

      Re: This article is a load of horse sh*t

      According to the EPO's own statistics (https://www.epo.org/about-us/annual-reports-statistics/statistics.html#filings), only about 3% of the patents granted in 2015 listed the first applicant as a company based in the UK. So, even allowing for a reasonable amount of UK co-ownership of other granted EPs, the vast majority of EPs are granted to non-UK companies.

      If the UK does not participate in the UPC, that will not stop UK companies being able to use the UPC system as enacted by the other Participating Member States (PMSs). Thus, UK companies will get the same benefits as those PMSs, but will not have their freedom-to-operate affected by "unitary" patents: only traditional UK validations of granted EPs. Also, bearing court fees in mind, litigation at the UK courts may well end up being cheaper on average than at the UPC.

      Therefore, putting aside the interests of the UK legal profession, do you not think that staying out of the UPC system could provide UK companies with a competitive advantage relative to e.g. French or German companies?

      Just a thought.

      Personally, I cannot see why anyone would be prepared to risk seeking unitary patent protection when it is far from certain that the UK will be able to stay in the system. Using the UPC I can understand, but the Court is unlikely to get much business if there are no unitary patents for them to get their teeth into (just the very few non-unitary patents that will not be opted out of the system).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The EPO is managing the development of the UPC, so it is fair to bring it into the story, despite its not being an EU institution. However, the EPO has a lot of staff because they have to handle a huge number of patent applications, not because of the UPC.

    The problem is that the UPC agreement requires the transfer of sovereignty to the Court of Justice of the EU. It is questionable whether that is necessary for the working of the system. With an amendment to the treaty, the UK could probably (I do not deny that it is complicated) just treat the rulings of the CJEU in the same way as it deals with any foreign law. In practice the courts would strive for uniformity, just as they do under the existing European Patent Convention that created the EPO in 1977.

  9. PeterM42
    Alert

    How many brown envelopes???

    Brexit means BREXIT!!!!!!!

    1. The First Dave

      Re: How many brown envelopes???

      You mean you want to move the entire UK off the EurAsian continental plate??

      Or did you not actually intend that particular 'leave' ?

  10. XandiK

    The journey back to pre-enlightenment

    Until now you had to register your invention in 28 countries to be protected, with the single patent you do it once and it is valid for all. Being against a single scheme is like protesting against bus tickets that allow you to travel further than a single bus stop. Just another example of the frankly absurd EU bashing that has come in fashion in the post truth age.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The journey back to pre-enlightenment

      Yes, but that isn't the issue here. The Brexit vote sadly, but perhaps necessarily, didn't state Leave , except for things we actually benefit from. It is out, full stop. Hence May's Brexit is Brexit statement. Taking the rough with the smooth.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a load of bollocks

    As a UK Patent Attorney, I have to say that this article is the biggest load of shite.

    The EPO is established to reduce bureaucracy involved in filing patent applications separately in the national patent offices of different countries, each with different requirements. It saves applicants seeking protection in more than one or two European countries and the system a shitload of money, has driven up standards and greatly harmonised the law across Europe to the extent that third parties operating in markets across Europe now have a higher degree of certainty as to what they can and can't do without infringing competitors' patents. The patent granting process in Europe is all the better for the EPO and we are seen as being the world-leading jurisdiction for patent law and standards.

    The pan-EU court of litigation in the form of the UPC will do the same for patent litigation, improving access to justice for patent holders and defendants of litigation actions and bringing us on a par with the US. If it were to go ahead without the UK being a part of It the UK and UPC and U.K. Companies would all be poorer with the result.

    1. The questioner

      Re: This is a load of bollocks

      Did you read my comments above? Ratifying the UPC Agreement is not without its potential disadvantages for UK industry. This is especially the case given that there is no guarantee that the UK can remain in the unitary patent system (as distinct from the UPC) post-Brexit. Pretending that all will definitely be rosy is just wishful thinking.

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