The UPC has faced continuous obstacles delaying its implementation. As matters stand, 15 contracting Member States have already ratified, including France and Italy. Once German ratification is complete it is anticipated that the final steps could be taken to set up the UPC in 2021 (with work likely starting in 2022), but more delays are now expected. In late December 2020, the German Parliament passed the ratification bill for the UPC Agreement but that was swiftly followed by the filing of two constitutional complaints with Federal Constitutional Court which delays the German process again.

Once up and running the UPC will replace all individual enforcement courts in different EU member states, enabling inventors and patent owners to enforce their patents across Europe. There will no longer be a requirement for multi-jurisdictional patent disputes, which has forced patent owners to litigate costly and complex issues throughout several European jurisdictions simultaneously.

Ireland is yet to ratify the UPC Agreement and a referendum is required to amend the Irish Constitution. Perhaps another opportunity for Ireland might unfold in the meantime, with Ireland becoming a potential candidate to house the Life Sciences Central Division. Doing so would demonstrate Ireland’s ongoing commitment to intellectual property, its protection and its market leading position in the life sciences sector. In addition, the Irish Commercial Court already plays an active role in the management of life sciences disputes, usually being simultaneously litigated in numerous European jurisdictions.

It is understood that the decision surrounding the final central divisional seat could be sensitive from a political perspective. Public lobbying started in Italy in 2016 after the Brexit vote. Italy has already formally nominated Milan to host the life sciences seat on a permanent basis. Currently, the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and France (Paris) are understood to be the main competitors to the Italian proposal.

Can Ireland be added to this list?