The Unified Patent Court (UPC) Preparatory Committee has announced that the UPC Agreement could enter into force and the UPC become operational as early as December 2017. Under this scenario, the “Provisional Application Phase”, which allows establishment of the organization as such, could start in the spring of 2017, presumably in May. The “sunrise period”, allowing for the possibility to opt existing European patents out of the UPC system, could start in September, followed by the start of operations of the UPC in December.
In its announcement, the Preparatory Committee emphasized that the timetable set forth is conditional and is dependent on a number of factors such as the necessary ratifications of the UPC Agreement. On this note, there is still, in spite of the announcement by the UK Intellectual Property Office in late November 2016 that it intends to ratify the UPC Agreement, a good deal of uncertainty regarding the UK’s role in relation to the coming UPC system, especially given that the UK is leaning more and more toward a “hard Brexit”. This was apparent in the speech given by UK Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday, in which she emphasized that she intends to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK, something that would appear to be incompatible with UPC membership.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates on our website as the situation develops.