As we have seen, the UK Prime Minister has surprisingly called earlier last week for General Election to take place on 8 June 2017. Authorized by Parliament on 19 April 2017, this Election is likely to freeze the Parliamentary business very soon.
The UPC Preparatory Committee published on April 10th, 2017 the last version of the Rules of Procedure, adopted during a meeting on the 15th of March 2017. This presumably final version of the Rules of Procedure clarifies some points that were still vague or incomplete but no significant changes from the previous version of the rules is to be reported; that may be the reason why the Committed decided not to update the title of the Draft Rules which remains the “18th Draft of the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court”. Here is a summary of the most important changes.
In practice, the UPC Agreement setting up the UPC is to enter into force the first day of the fourth month after the deposit of the thirteenth instrument of ratification or accession, including France, Germany and the UK.
As a further unforeseen development of the setting up of the UPC, the United Kingdom voted “Brexit”. This Brexit has become more tangible as the UK has notified withdrawal from the EU under article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union on March 29, 2017.
Despite the great uncertainties created by Brexit, rumors say that the UK is willing to ratify the UPC Agreement in spring 2017. Besides, Germany is apparently prepared to do so in summer 2017. This would trigger start of the UPC at the end of year 2017 or the beginning of year 2018.
Before start of the UPC, these ratifications would trigger immediate entry into force of the Protocol to the UPC Agreement signed by the Contracting Member States on October 1st, 2015.
The UPC has to be fully operable at the date the UPC Agreement enters into force.
On March 15, 2017, the Final Preparatory Committee of the UPC met in the Hague. Mr. Brunner who attended the meeting as a Representative of the French Ministry of Justice made a few comments in a conference organized on the next day by the Association of French Patent Attorneys (CNCPI).
After two unsuccessful attempts to create a “Community Patent” in 1973 and 1989, the European Commission finally tabled the unitary patent proposal in 2011. (See European Parliament website for more information).
The system was supposed to be operational during the first semester of 2017, but due to the importance of the UK in the system, the “Brexit” referendum in June 2016 delayed its entry into force. Stakeholders now wish that it takes place before the end of 2017.