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‘Milan is a natural candidate’: Italian IP lawyers target London patents court post Brexit

Italy’s intellectual property (IP) lawyers are eyeing up London’s branch of the Unified Patents Court (UPC) in the wake of EU referendum.

The IP trade body that represents Italian 1,300 patent lawyers and trademark experts is lobbying the Italian government to bring the London court to the city as the future of the UPC remains in doubt.

Porta Checcacci & Associates consultant Anna Maria Bardone, president of Italy’s Ordine dei Consulenti Proprieta Industriale, said in a letter to the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Milan was ‘a natural candidate in place of London’.

Bardone said Italy was the EU country with the third highest number of new patents after the UK exits.

The unitary patent system would have seen patents validated in all European countries that sign up, while the courts would deal with disputes arising under the new deal. London was set to host the pharmaceuticals, life sciences and chemicals branch of the court.

City partners told Legal Business the location of the court remained uncertain unless the UK chose to accept supremacy of EU law in patents. Simmons & Simmons head of IP Rowan Freeland recently instructed Richard Gordon QC of Brick Court to advise on the future legal case for keeping the UPC in London.

Taylor Wessing international head of patents Simon Cohen said: ‘We have heard Milan, Paris, Munich and the Netherlands could all be interested in taking the court. We have to see if the UK will actually be in the UPC if it comes in 2017.

‘The prevalent view is that we won’t ratify now until we know what happens with the Brexit negotiations, but other European countries are likely to be very keen to move ahead with it.’

Linklaters head of IP Ian Karet added: ‘The UK can be part of the UPC but it will require political will to bring it home. We will have to accept decisions of European courts on some issues and we will have to see if the government is behind that. Among practitioners there is a will for the court to be in London.’

Responding to a parliamentary question on the UPC on 5 September, Brexit minister David Davis said: ‘For as long as we are a member of the EU, which by the sounds of it will be at least two years, we will meet all our obligations and we will take our responsibilities extremely seriously.’