The German National Assembly (Bundestag) has now adopted the law for ratifying the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) with the required majority. As a next step, the Bundesrat, the second chamber, has to approve the law. As the Bundesrat did not have any objections previously, it is likely that the law will pass with the required majority. The next session of the Bundesrat is planned for 18 December 2020, however the schedule of the session is not yet fixed. After the vote of the Bundesrat, the government and the president have formally to sign the law.
After the ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) by the United Kingdom on April 26th, France has just adopted new Order n°2018-341 of May 9th, 2018, regarding Unitary Patents and the Unified Patent Court (the “Order”).
While this new law intends to amend the French Intellectual Property Code in view of the upcoming changes with Unitary Patents (“UP”) and the Unified Patent Court (“UPC”), it is supposed to have a wider impact on patent law in France.
According to the website of the Council of the European Union, Lithuania has completed its ratification formalities on 24 August 2017. This is the 14th ratification following that of Estonia which joined the unitary patent system on 1 August 2017.
To be complete, the unitary patent system requires 13 ratifications, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom. France is already part of the system since 14 March 2014. However, according to the Preparatory Committee, the United Kingdom and Germany still have some hurdles to overcome before the unitary patent system enters into force (you can see our previous posts on the situation in the UK and Germany)
Still, the Preparatory Committee is confident that the UPC will come into force around January 2018.
The 5th conference on the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court, organized annually by Premier Cercle in association with the EPO, was held in Munich on July 5, 2017.
First, an overview over the state of advancement of the implementation of the Unitary Patent and the UPC from a technical, legal and financial point of view was given by a member of the Committee in charge of the Implementation of the Unitary Patent Protection. It appears that the implementation is completed at all levels, and that the system is ready to launch as soon as the ratification process has been completed.
This overview was followed by a discussion on the selection of the judges for the UPC. The first round of selection is now completed and 236 candidates were selected among initially 841. These candidates will now be interviewed individually to select a total of 100 judges, among which 50 technically qualified judges and 50 legally qualified judges. The overall impression conveyed by the Chairman of the Advisory Panel on the Selection and Training of Judges for the Unified Patent Court, Sir Robin Jacob, was that the quality of the candidates was very promising.
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.