Brexit and the UPC

Respondents are united in the belief that the UPC will not be up and running in 2020, but private practitioners are increasingly optimistic that it will be accomplished at some point in the future. This year, 69% expressed this view, compared to 54% in 2019. Whether these high hopes continue into 2021 is yet to be seen, but a rethink may be in order given that in March the German Constitutional Court ruled the country’s accession to the UPC illegal.

The pan-European court is considered an important undertaking by corporates and law firms alike. A full 25% of private practitioners said that it was very important for the UPC to be established, with 43% rating it as somewhat important. Only 21% felt that it was not important at all. IP-owning businesses are even more supportive of the UPC than their legal counterparts, with 35% rating it as very important and 43% saying that it is somewhat important. It is worth noting that in 2019 the figure for ‘very important’ stood at 24%.

Corporates and law firms are aligned in their opinions that the United Kingdom should be involved in any future pan-European court. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dashed these hopes by backtracking on Theresa May’s commitment to UPC membership.

Speaking of Brexit, IP-owning businesses and private practitioners have been reassessing the effect that this will have on European IP strategy. Companies are increasingly thinking that they will need to re-evaluate their strategy, with 12% giving this response, up from 7% in the year prior. Interestingly, law firms have the exact opposite opinion. Last year 13% believed that there would need to be a complete re-evaluation of clients’ strategies, but this time around only 6% expressed this view.

This year, far more private practitioners said that the United Kingdom leaving the European Union would have a minimal impact on European IP strategy, up to 49% from 33%. This is in tune with IP owners, where 56% said that they believed the impact of Brexit to be small. However, law firms and corporates still diverge over whether the United Kingdom will be more or less of an important focus. Private practitioners have strongly indicated that in a post-Brexit world the United Kingdom will be much less of a focus for clients.

Figure 27. How important is it that the United Kingdom be part of any future UPC? (IP owners)

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Figure 28. How important is it that the UPC is established? (IP owners)

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Figure 29. How will Brexit affect your European IP strategy? (Please choose up to three options) (IP owners)

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Figure 30. When do you think Europe’s UPC system will get up and running? (private practice)

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Figure 31. How important is it that the United Kingdom is part of any future UPC? (private practice)

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Figure 32. How important is it that the UPC is established? (private practice)

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Figure 33. How do you expect Brexit to affect your clients’ European IP strategies? (Please choose up to three options) (private practice)

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