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16 January 2017
An official statement from the Unified Patent Court (UPC) website, published today (found here), has outlined a rough timetable for the UPC becoming operational. If all continues as expected, the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPCA) and the Court itself should be up and running in December 2017. This would mean that the ‘Unitary Patent’ would become an option for applicants with European patent applications that grant after that start date.
The first step in achieving this goal is the start of the Provisional Application Phase (PAP). Once the PAP begins, the UPC’s formal governing bodies will become established and judicial interviews and appointments can proceed. The PAP is expected, as things currently stand, to start at the end of spring.
Following the start of the PAP, the sunrise-period for opting out of the UPC will begin. This allows applicants an initial period in which to opt out before the Court becomes operational. This is expected to begin in early September.
Finally, once the sunrise-period is complete, the UPCA and the Court will begin full operation in December 2017.
The statement does highlight that this timetable is subject to the disclaimer that there are a number of factors which may affect each of those deadlines. The main factor is whether the UK and Germany ratify the UPCA and accede to the Protocol on Provisional Application in good time. Any delays to the ratification and accession will have obvious knock-on effects to the above dates.
However, following the announcement of the UK’s intention to proceed with ratifying the UPCA (discussed here), the most significant hurdle to the implementation of the UPC looks to be overcome. Germany has always been expected to ratify the UPCA shortly after the UK, in order that the start of UPCA may be controlled. Therefore, everything looks to be in place for the Court to begin operating in December.
James Mitchell and Russell Barton
Electronics, Computing & Physics group
If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing, please contact Russell Barton (firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 207 940 3600) or your usual contact at the firm. This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Withers & Rogers LLP, January 2017