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The Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) was originally planned to start 1 December 2017. However, due to the election in the UK the commencement of the UP/UPC has been delayed. The status after the election in the United Kingdom is that “the UK Government recently have laid down orders for implementing the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities in Westminster“. Hence the UK Government is “signaling a firm intent and commitment in the road to ratification“.
However, the UP/UPC will only come into force when 13 EU countries have ratified the UPC, including the three countries that have the greatest number of European patent validations, i.e. Germany, France and the UK. At the moment, 12 countries have ratified the UPC, including France. This means that the system will take effect shortly after ratification by the UK and Germany.
Even though Germany has previously signaled its intention to ratify in the near future the situation has now taken a new course. As it turns out, an unnamed individual has lodged a complaint against the bill concerning the German ratification of the UPCA and has also submitted a request for preliminary/emergence measures ordering the suspension of the ratification, until the Court has decided on the merits of the case. The Court has informed the President of the German Republic informally of this, which is standard practice in Germany. The consequence is that the President “has decided not to proceed with the ratification until the Court has decided on the request for preliminary measures”.
The Chairman of Preparatory Committee, Alexander Ramsay, mentions that this will further delay the commencement of the UP/UPC and the start of the period of provisional application of the UPC. However, Ramsay mentions that he is hopeful that the situation in Germany will be solved rather quickly so that the provisional application may begin sometime in autumn this year and the “sunrise period” for opting out would start early 2018.
See the complete message from Alexander Ramsay
* All quotations are taken from Alexander Ramsay’s official message.