The UK has surprised and delighted the business and legal worlds by announcing that it will ratify the single European patent agreement, which will establish a “unitary patent” enforced by a Unified Patent Court (UPC). Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the minister responsible for intellectual property issues, conveyed the government’s decision to the EU competitiveness council on Monday. It is the first British opt-in to a new European institution since the Brexit vote in June. (Earlier this month the UK agreed to extend its participation in the existing Europol law enforcement agency.) The new patent system is a complex hybrid of EU and non-EU components. While the UPC is officially an international judiciary outside the EU, it was set up under the auspices of the EU and is currently open only to member states – and some of its underlying legal framework is subject to interpretation by the European Court of Justice.