The European Unitary Patent System and Unified Patent Court

UPC to enter force

Following the UK’s announcement that it intends to proceed with the ratification process, despite on-going negotiations to leave the EU, it has been announced that the UPC is expected to enter force in December 2017. This will be preceded by the start of the preliminary phase in May 2017 and the opening of the sunrise period for opt-outs in September 2017.

The Preparatory Committee has announced that they will hold a final meeting in March 2017 which is intended to finalise preparations for the UPC to enter force. The process of judicial appointments is also continuing.

The “Provisional Application Phase (PAP)” is expected to start in May 2017, which will allow contracts to be signed and the required bodies to be established. To provide patentees and applicants with an opportunity to opt-out of the Court the sunrise period is expected to open in September 2017, providing 3 months to make the necessary notifications.

This timetable is only an assumption, and is dependent on a number of factors, not least the requirement for the UK and Germany to complete ratification. Presumably the preparatory committee has been informed this process is expected to be completed in good time, the current political climate suggests anything could happen. There is also the small matter of ensuring all staff and IT systems are in place to allow the Court to function.

This announcement is a very positive move forwards and suggests optimism that, despite the road-bump of the UK’s chosen path, the Court will enter force. It also suggests a belief that agreements can be made to allow the Court to continue to function once the UK leaves the EU.