Delays to Opening of Unified Patent Court?

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It was understood that UK Government had planned to ratify the UPC agreement in May 2017 so that the Unified Patents Court could open by the end of the year.  However, that timetable now looks likely to experience minor delays and could push opening of the Court into 2018.

A side-effect of the span election announced by UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, on 18 April 2017 is that Parliament will dissolve on 3 May 2017 and this will prevent changes to UK law (which includes approval of statutory instruments such as the one needed for the UK to ratify the UPC).  Parliament will reconvene in June but only for a short period before breaking up for summer vacation in July. The necessary legislation might be squeezed through in the short period between June and July 2017 but more than likely will slip until September 2017.

Once UK and Germany have ratified (other countries necessary to meet minimum requirements have already ratified), a provisional application procedure begins during which the court structures will be established. The UPC preparatory committee had previously estimated 7 months for this period before the Court opened in December 2017.  due to delays in UK ratification this timetable can be expected to slip unless the preparatory period is shortened.  As a result, the Court will now likely open in 2018.  A sunrise period during which European patents and patent applications can be opted out of the competence of the UPC will run for a minimum of 3 months prior to opening of the Court.

Jonathan is a British and European Patent Attorney. He studied Cybernetics with Computer Science at Reading University. He is also a Chartered IT Professional and is a member of the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT. He is active in promoting IP awareness in IT companies and spends much of his time dealing with both IP for IT and technical IT issues.