The UPC is dead (thanks to Germany’s constit. court), long live the UPC!

Germany's constitutional court

The German constitutional decision:

In March 2017 a lawyer asked Germany’s constitutional court to decide whether the German Parliament had passed the legislation ratifying the UPC Agreement with the appropriate quorum .

In March of this year the court, finally, ruled that the Bundestag should have passed the ratification bill with a two-thirds majority of all the German MPs. This quorum is in fact required whenever a piece of legislation substantially amends the German constitution. Instead, only 35 out of 709 MPs approved it.

The German constitutional court however considered that the UPC Agreement allowed the transfer of sovereign rights to a supranational court, the UPC. This therefore amounted to a constitutional amendment and required the legislation enabling the ratification of the UPC Agreement to be passed by the German parliament with a two-third majority of MPs.

This means that Germany must now pass, with the specified quorum, a new law allowing the ratification of the UPC Agreement. With the current worldwide health crisis this may not however be a priority for the German government.

So what now?

Germany’s ratification is necessary for the UPC to go ahead. According to JUVE Patents, the German Federal justice minister Christine Lambrecht announced soon after the German constitutional court published its decision that she “will continue (her) efforts to ensure that we can provide European innovative industry with a unitary European patent with a European Patent Court. The Federal Government will carefully evaluate the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court and examine possibilities to remedy the identified lack of form before the end of this legislative period.

Although the direction that will take the UPC is uncertain it seems that Germany’s political will still exists at the moment. However, the longer the ratification procees takes the harder it will be for the Court to overcome the rise of euro-scepticism and the growing reluctance of some member states to integrate further legal and economic areas.

A new Christmas tale by the German constitutional court?

In Spring 2017 the German constitutional court was asked to assess the constitutionality of the German legislation allowing the country’s ratification of the UPCA. The court backlog has so far meant that the decision is still pending.

However, on 20th November, Peter Huber, the judge rapporteur in charge of the challenge before the German constitutional court declared that the Court will hand its decision in early 2020.

In his interview with Managing IP, Huber stated that it was his “intention to issue a decision on the complaint made against the legislation enabling Germany to ratify the UPC Agreement early next year”.

The final time frame however still depends on the time it takes for him (the judge rapporteur) and other judges at the Constitutional Court to deliberate on and amend the judgement.

Although this declaration is not an official communication from the German constitutional court itself, whose spokesman did not actually confirm the content of the interview, it still gives hope as to the coming into action of the UPC.

Last week, Alexander Ramsay -Head of the UPC Preparatory Committee- reacted to this declaration and said that the UPC could be operational by early 2021. This assumes that Germany ratifies the UPCA very soon after its constitutional court’s decision. The UPC will then need 8 months from Germany’s ratification to be ready.

Indeed once this ratification takes place the provisional phase can start, and in turn the three governing bodies (the administrative, budgetary and advisory committees) of the court can be set up. The end of the provisional government period will then be decided by the member states.

However, Alexander Ramsay was keen to emphasise that the UPC is putting the extra time, given by the German constitutional challenge, to good use.

The IT system for example is now ready and has benefited from the ratification delay with IT teams checking that the “IT system can actually work together. The Registry Rules are also tested to check that they are functional. Similarly the recruitment of judges is under way with around 1000 candidates to choose from for around 50 qualified judges positions and 50 legally qualified judges positions.

All is needed now is for the German constitutional court to issue its decision…

Brexit and the German constitutional challenge

Brexit and the German constitutional challenge

Brexit is getting closer everyday and its consequences for the UPC have become tangible: it is now unlikely that the UK will still be a member of the UPC after 31st October 2019. It also is unlikely that the UK will become a member state of the UPC before Brexit; Germany’s ratification before the end of next month being highly improbable.

So what has been happening in the UK with regard to the UPC?

In August, Jo Johnson was reappointed as IP Minister. He had already held the position from July 2016 to January 2018. It is under his tenure that the UK ratified the UPC Agreement and declared it intended to participate to the UPC after Brexit.

Some had interpreted this re-appointment as a strong signal of the government support for the UK’s involment in the UPC. However Jo Johnson resigned as MP and minister on 05th September, citing “unresolvable tension between family loyalty and the national interest’.

Thus, now that the UK Government seems to be aiming for a no-deal Brexit the possibility of the UK remaining a member of the UPC is very slim. Indeed, had the UK agreed to the EU withdrawal agreement, the UK and the EU would have had until 31 december 2020 to negotiate the UK’s continued participation to the UPC.

Hence, although the UKIPO declared the following to Managing IP:

it is difficult to see how the UK government could, after Brexit, justify to be subjected to the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Moreover, commentators agree on the fact that there is still a strong incentive for the UPC to exist even without the UK’s participation. The UPC member states will thus probably push for its entry into force despite the fact that the UK is not participating.

Managing IP has actually launched this week a survey for in-houses “to find out whether a European harmonised patent system would still be attractive to patent-focused businesses without the UK as a participant” . It asks 2 questions:

“1. Would the UPC and unitary patent system still be attractive to you and your business without the UK as a participant? 2. Why do you think the UPC and unitary patent project is still attractive OR unattractive without the UK?

And what about Germany?

Despite passing the legislation enabling the ratification of the UPC Agreement, Germany has yet to ratify it. The ratification is stalled by the constitutional challenge of the very legislation allowing the ratification of the UPC Agreement . The German constitutional court has however schedulled the challenge for a hearing this year.

In August, the German Federal Government has had also to answer questions from the German Free Democratic Party about the UPC. The questions concerned the impact of Brexit and Germany’s annual budget for the UPC. The German Federal Government was asked about the money it has spent to contribute to support the development of the UPC. With regard to the impact of Brexit, the German Federal Government responded the following:

The issue of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (so-called Brexit) and its implications for European patent reform play an important role in the further implementation process of the Unified Patent Court. The real and legal implications of withdrawing from the Treaty must be examined and agreed at European level. This opinion is currently not finalized, not least because significant factors of the expected exit are not yet known.” (p.2 response to questions 1 & 2, )

Regarding future budgets, the Federal Government confirmed its ongoing commitment to the creation of a unified patent system in Europe. It declared:

“The Federal Government has always insisted on the creation of a unified patent system in Europe and thus also on the Unified Patent Court. This commitment will continue. The Federal Government therefore takes the necessary budgetary measures to fulfill the financial obligations arising from ratification” (p.4, response to questions 7 & 8)

The UPC into action before Brexit no longer possible?

The coming into existence of the UPC before Brexit does not seem probable. It is in fact, on the one hand, unlikely the German constitutional court decide upon the constitutionality of the ratification legislation before Brexit and, on the other hand, one can doubt that Germany would sign the UPC Agreement without knowing the overall impact of Brexit on the UPC.

The coming into action of the UPC will thus depend on the Member states’ ability to commit, notably financially, to the project once the UK will have left the EU. Indeed, the UPC Agreement does not require the UK to be a participating member state for it to come into force; but only provides that “this Agreement should enter into force on 1 January 2014 or on the first day of the fourth month after the 13th deposit, provided that the Contracting Member States that will have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession include the three States in which the highest number of European patents was in force in the year preceding the year in which the signature of the Agreement takes place, or on the first day of the fourth month after the date of entry into force of the amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1215/20121 concerning its relationship with this Agreement, whichever is the latest”.

Latest news: a few milestones have been reached

Latest news and milestones from the UPC

Where did the UPC stand at the end of 2018?

In December 2018 the Unified Patent Court Preparatory Committee published a statement summarizing last year’s major events for the Court. It listed notably Latvia and the UK’s ratifications of the UPC Agreement, as well as the progress of the technical and operational preparations.

On a less positive note, the statement also mentioned the fact that the German constitutional case was still pending.

Since the begining of 2019, a few milestones have since been reached:

  • Milestone 1: In January, Austria signed the UPC Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA). The PPA allows some provisions of the UPC Agreement to come into force early. This protocol will allow final preparations to take place, such as the recruitment of judges, and ensure that the UPC can start smoothly. Under Article 3, the PPA will come into force the day after France, Germany, the UK and 10 other countries ratify, or inform the depositary that they have parliamentary approval to ratify the Agreement and have consented to be bound by the PPA. So far France, the UK and nine other countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden) have already done so.  Germany signed the PPA on 1 October 2015 but must now ratify it. However, Germany’s ratifications of the PPA and UPC Agreement, is on hold due to the constitutional complaint pending before the German Constitutional Court.
  • Milestone 2: In February, in Italy, the Parliament has amended its legislation (legislative decree n°18 dated 19th February 2019) to make it compatible with the Unitary Patent Regulation (EU 1257/2012) and the UPC Agreement. The Italian Industrial Property Code now recognises the unitary patent and introduces new exceptions to infringement (Article 27(c), (f), (g), (h) and (k) UPC Agreement), such as the “plant breeders’ exemption” (“The rights conferred by a patent shall not extend to any of the following: (…) c) the use of biological material for the purpose of breeding, or discovering and developing other plant varieties and the “interoperability exemption”) and the interoperability exemption (” The rights conferred by a patent shall not extend to any of the following: (…) k) the acts and the use of the obtained information as allowed under Articles 5 and 6 of Directive 2009/24/EC1 , in particular, by its provisions on decompilation and interoperability“) .
  • Milestone 3: In Germany, the constitutional review of the law enabling the country to take part in the UPC is still ongoing. The German Federal Constitutional Court has however listed the constitutional Complaint with the cases it will rule on in 2019. Moreover, in February 2019 the four committees of the German Parliament voted against a motion to repeal the UPC legislation. The motion will now return to the Bundestag for a definitive vote, which should a priori reject it.
  • Milestone 4: In March, the EPLIT published a short survey regarding the dress code for representatives before the UPC. The survey asked three questions: ” Should representatives wear uniform robes in oral proceedings before the UPC?” “Why should or shouldn’t they wear uniform robes in oral proceedings before the UPC?” and “If they should, which colour should the robe be?” Indeed, the draft Code of Conduct adopted by the Preparatory Committee mentions a dress code (“Finally, we note that once decided for the judges, some provision on the dress code for Representatives should be added to avoid possible discrimination.”). This is because in some participating member states, representatives already wear a robe, such as in France, Germany the Netherlands or the UK. The EPLIT states that apparently a blue robe has been proposed, and annouced the results of the survey at the EPLIT’s annual meeting. The results have not yet been published.

Despite some progress, the UPC’s start of operation is still very uncertain.

Indeed, although the UPC’s entry into force was announced for 2019, the uncertainty created by Brexit as well as by the German constitutional challenge has considerably slowed down the process. One can now hope that there is a better visibility over the UPC’s future once the EU and the UK agree on a Brexit deal.

What does “good ratification progress” mean?

Brexit and the German constitutional challenge

The Preparatory Committee latest update:

The Preparatory Committee published a short update on the UPC’s latest developments and the good ratification progress.

The update highlights the consequences of the German constitutional court review of Germany’s legislation allowing the ratification of the UPC Agreement. This action has in fact led to the postponement of Germany’s ratification until further notice by the German constitutional court. In turn, this new uncertainty has seriously jeopardised the timetable for the start of operations of the UPC and made it difficult to predict a new timeline.

The Preparatory Committee on the other hand underlines the good progress made by participating Member States with the ratification of the UPC Agreement. In fact, 14 countries have so far deposited their instruments of ratification. Hence, according to the Preparatory Committee, it is likely that 20 countries will have ratified the UPC Agreement by the time the UPC starts operating.

Why is “good ratification progress” good news for patent users?

The number of countries that will have ratified the UPC Agreement will be higher than the original estimations . This is good news for patent owners.

The EU Directive 1257/2012 and the UPC Agreement in fact both state that the territorial scope of the unitary patent and the UPC’s decisions will correspond to the territory of the Member States participating to the unitary patent package and having ratified the UPC Agreement. Article 3 of EU Directive 1257/2012  more specifically states that “(a) European patent with unitary effect (…) shall provide uniform protection and shall have equal effect in all the participating Member States. It may only be limited, transferred or revoked, or lapse, in respect of all the participating Member States.”  Similarly, article 54 of the UPC Agreement, provides that the territorial scope of the UPC’s decisions covers “the territory of those Contracting Member States for which the European patent has effect“.

This means that the more Member States ratify the UPC Agreement the larger the territorial scope of the Unitary Patent and the UPC is. Hence, from 2018, an inventor applying for a unitary patent or the owner of a non-opted out European patent will benefit from a protection extending to 20 countries . Likewise, a patent owner initiating an infringement action may be able to obtain a declaration of infringement in those 20 countries. The alleged infringer of that patent on the other hand may obtain its revocation in all those participating Member States.

Beyond the minimum required number of countries that must ratify the UPC Agreement for it to enter into force, the number of ratifications of the UPC Agreement will also importantly determine the territorial jurisdiction of the court and the territorial scope of the Unitary Patent.

So, which are the 14 countries that have ratified so far the UPC Agreement ?

Austria (2013), France (2014), Sweden (2014), Belgium (2014), Denmark (2014), Malta (2014), Luxembourg (2015), Portugal (2015), Finland (2016), Bulgaria (2016), Netherlands (2016), Italy (2017), Estonia (2017), Lithuania (2017).

The territorial scope of the UPC and the unitary Patent therefore looks like that:

Ratification progress map

(Green: Countries that have ratified / Pink: Countries that have not ratified yet / Brown: Countries not participating to the UPC)

Despite their ratification of the UPC Agreement, some of these countries however have not signed the protocols necessary for the entry into force of the UPC:

What about the 11 countries that still have not ratified the UPC Agreement?

The following countries have not ratified yet the UPC Agreement, however, most have made progress towards their participation to the UPC.

The UK: In October 2015 the UK signed the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application. Since (on 26th October 2017) the Scottish Parliament debated and approved the draft International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) (Scotland) Amendment (N°2) Order 2017 which will give effect to the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the Unified Patent Court. This Order amends the Scottish International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) (Scotland) Order 2009 .

This is however only the first out of the two orders required for the UK to sign the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. In fact both the UK and the Scottish Parliaments must review and amend their respective legislation. The UK Unitary patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017 was laid before the UK Parliament on 26th June 2017 and is now awaiting debate before the UK Parliament.

The UK Parliament is on recess until 9th October 2017 and will thus only consider this statutory instrument from this date. As to ratification of the UPC Agreement the UK government undertook to ratify it before it leaves the European Union and reaffirmed its commitment to the UPC (see here). The UK Government has not however disclosed any date for ratification .

Germany: In March 2017 Germany passed a law to ratify the UPC AgreementIn April 2017 a challenge was brought before the German constitutional court arguing that the legislation passed by the German Parliament was unconstitutional. (See our posts on this issue here) This complaint has put a stop to Germany’s ratification process. The German constitutional court has not yet made public when it will consider the complaint. However, the court has extended (last week) its deadline for third parties comments on the issue to 31st December 2017. Germany has nonetheless signed the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application in October 2015 and the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the Unified Patent Court in June 2016.

Ireland: In Ireland, although the Irish Prime Minister has announced seven referenda in September 2017, none will be on the ratification of the UPC Agreement. Ireland ratification of the UPC Agreement demands however that the Constitution be modified which can only be made through a referendum. The decision of the Irish Prime Minister to delay the organisation of this referendum  therefore postpone Ireland’s ratification to an unknown date. Ireland has also neither signed the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the Unified Patent Court nor the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application.

Greece: In June 2016, Greece altogether with 11 other Member States signed the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. Since, the Ministry of Justice consulted in March 2017 the public on the draft legislation to ratify the UPC Agreement (see the consultation here).  The same month Greece signed the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application.

Hungary: It was reported that in July 2017, the Hungarian Minister of Justice, acting on behalf of the government, filed a motion with the Constitutional Court of Hungary (No. X / 01514/2017) requesting the Court’s opinion on the compatibility of the UPC Agreement  with the Hungarian Constitution “and on the appropriate mechanism that must be used for its ratification“.  The Hungarian government in fact wishes the Constitutional Court to determine whether the ratification of the UPC Agreement can be operated under the mechanism of transfer of sovereignty that must be used in relation with the EU and international agreements that Hungary sign as an EU member state. The nature of the UPC Agreement is in fact debated since the Brexit. Indeed if the UPC Agreement is an EU agreement, the UK’s participation to the UPC will be subject to amendments made to the UPC Agreement. If on the other hand the UPC Agreement is an international agreement the participation of the UK will be subject to, notably, its acceptance of the authority of the CJEU. Although for reasons related to the Hungarian constitutional order, the Hungarian constitutional court may thus determine this issue before the CJEU or Brexit negotiators reach a their own conclusion.

Slovenia: In October 2015 Slovenia signed the  Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application, followed in July 2017 by the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities in July 2017. It also passed a law ratifying the UPC Agreement in October 2016. Slovenia however has still not deposited its ratification instrument to the Council of the European Union. This renders it ineffective. Finally, Slovenia will be hosting the Patent Arbitration and Mediation centre in Ljubljana. In that respect Slovenia has registered a declaration by the Council of the European Union stating that “(t)he Republic of Slovenia considers that the Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre as established by the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, done at Brussels on 19 February 2013, is part of the Unified Patent Court, and that consequently the provisions of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the Unified Patent Court, done at Brussels on 29 June 2016, apply mutatis mutandis to the Centre.

Latvia: Latvia has passed a law ratifying the UPC Agreement in April 2017. This law however will only come into force on 1st January 2018. Latvia is planning to take part in the Nordic-Baltic regional division of the UPC with Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia but must first pass a law allowing its participation to this regional division.

The Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania have not initiated any development towards their participation to the UPC. 

Update on the UPC timetable: a message from UPC Preparatory Committee Chairman

Brexit and the German constitutional challenge

On 7th June 2017 the Preparatory Committee announced through a statement a delay in the start of the Period of provisional application and in the entry into force of the UPC Agreement. No new timetable was announced, but the committee expressed its will to publish one in the foreseeable future.

Yesterday the chairman of the Preparatory Committee Alexander Ramsay released a message on the UPC website.

The Preparatory Committee is still waiting on two different national procedures:

  • The ratification of the UPC Agreement, which requires the deposit of 13 instruments of ratification, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
  • The approval of the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) by 13 Member States that have already signed the UPC Agreement and whose Governments have received Parliamentary approval to ratify the UPC Agreement.

On one hand, the chairman noted that the ratification process has progressed in both Estonia and the United Kingdom. Estonia indeed passed the necessary legislation to ratify the UPC Agreement and the UPC Order on Privileges and Immunities was placed before the British Parliament on 26th June.

But on the other hand, three  Member States, including Germany and the UK, still need to approve the PPA to start the provisional application period.

The chairman insisted on the recent delay of the German ratification bill by the Federal Constitutional Court due to a recently complaint. In fact, the German Constitutional Court received a complaint in April 2017 challenging the constitutionality of the legislation enabling the ratification of the UPC Agreement. The grounds and the source of the complaint remain unknown to the public. However, the Court considered this complaint justified enough to request the Federal President not to sign the bill and examine the complaint before ratification.

Considering the above, the chairman concluded it is currently difficult to maintain a definitive starting date for the period of provisional application. According to him, the provisional application period should start during the autumn 2017 followed by the sunrise period for the opt-out procedure in early 2018. Around three months later, the UPC Agreement should enter into force and the UPC should become operational.

This announcement is consistent with the timetable that was expected by most experts. The UPCBlog team will follow any update on a more detailed timetable.

 

German Federal Constitutional Court stops German ratification bill

German Federal Constitutional Court stops ratification of UPCA

The ratification of the UPC Agreement might be facing another delay.

According to a report from a German newspaper (the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), the German Federal Constitutional Court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht) asked the Federal President to suspend the signature of the legislation implementing the Unitary Patent Package voted on 31st March by the German Parliament  necessary -together with the German executive’s and its publication in the German Federal Law Gazette- for it to become legislation.

The German Constitutional Court in fact received a complaint in April 2017 (2 BvR 739/17), from a currently unknown source, challenging the constitutionality of the legislation enabling the ratification of the UPC agreement.  Although the grounds remain unknown to the public, the Court considered this complaint justified enough to request the Federal President not to sign the bill and examine the complaint before ratification.

The Constitutional Court spokesperson confirmed that the President had indeed agreed, as a preliminary measure, to delay signing the bill.

It is however difficult to say whether this unexpected event will slow down, again, the ratification process of the UPC agreement. In fact, Germany still has time to deposit its instruments of ratification by September 2017, thus allowing the UPC to be launched by the beginning of 2018.

 

Ratification and amendment bills adopted by both houses of German Parliament

Ratification and amendment bill adopted by German Parliament

The ratification bill allowing the German government to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement and the bill amending German law to accommodate the Unitary Patent Package were adopted by both houses of German Parliament.

On 31st March, the German Bundesrat adopted, without any modification, the bill approved and sent by the Bundestag on 9th March 2017 for the ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement.  The Bundesrat’s decision states:

Law resolution Of the German Bundestag

At its 956th meeting on 31 March 2017, the Federal Council (Bundesrat) adopted the Act adopted by the German Bundestag on 9 March 2017 in accordance with Article 23 (1), second sentence, Article 74 (2) in conjunction with paragraph 1 number 25 and 105 (3) of the Basic Law.

This bill provides for the ratification of the Unified Patent Court. It describes the purpose and functioning of the UPC. It also sets out the cost to be borne by Germany and the anticipated budget of the UPC.

The Bundesrat also examined the second bill which will modify German patent law to accommodate the Unitary Patent Package.  The Bundesrat first examined this bill on 8 July 2017 and decided not to raise objections. It was then adopted by the Bundestag on 9 March 2017 without amendments. The Bundesrat therefore notes that there is no reason to submit the bill to the mediation committee.

This bill provides for the new European Patent with unitary effect to be incorporated into the German legal order:

  • It defines the situations which allow for the protection of an invention by a national patent and a European patent or a European patent with unitary effect.
  • It sets “a new compulsory enforcement rule (…) to enable the decisions and orders of the Unified Patent Court to be enforced without difficulty in Germany“.
  • A new compulsory enforcement rule will be introduced to enable the decisions and orders of the Unified Patent Court to be enforced without difficulty.
  • Finally, the German Patent and Trademark Office will be required to indicate in its register whether the patent has unitary effect of not.

Now that both Parliament houses have adopted the bills, the German executive and President must sign them. The bills must then be published in the German Federal Law Gazette to become legislation.

 

For a quick overview of the bills and official texts click on the following links:

Gesetzesbeschluss des Deutschen Bundestages  (dated 10/03/17)

Beschluss des Bundesrates (dated 31/03/17)

Explanatory note (dated 31/03/17)

Official page of the Federal Council meeting n°956

German parliament approves the ratification of the UPCA:

Encouraging steps by participating member states towards the entry into force of the UPC Agreement

The German parliament approves the ratification of the UPCA:

On 9th March 2017, the German Bundestag approved the bill for the ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement and the bill amending German patent law. The Bundesrat, the second chamber of the German Parliament, will now debate the bill between the end of March and mid-May. The German executive and President must sign it before it is published in the German Federal Law Gazette and becomes part of the German legislation.

In a parallel move, the Bundesrat approved on the same day the bill enabling Germany to ratify the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities.

Both were  on the agenda of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Bundesrat for 15th March 2017. The Bundesrat webpage does not however give any indication as to the outcome of the discussion.

What next?

Germany will probably postpone the deposit of its instrument of ratification with the EU Council, until August. This will trigger the sunrise period before the launch of the UPC and the Unitary Patent on 1st December 2017.

 

 

Italy has signed the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the UPCA and other -good- news about ratification:

UK ratifies the UPC Agreement

On 20th February, at the EU Competitiveness Council, Italy signed the UPC Agreement on the Provisional Application. (See our post here on the Protocol). The Protocol on Provisional Application allows  “final decisions on the practical set up of the Court” to enter into application. This includes for example the “recruitment of judges and testing of IT systems“and  the registration of opt-out demands. So far 12 countries (including Italy) have signed it.

 

This was not the only  progress towards the UPC becoming operational that occurred recently:

  • On 8th February 2017 the German Parliament examined the draft legislation authorizing the ratification of the UPCA.
  • On 13th February 2017, the Spanish Socialist Worker’s party (PSOE)  called on the Spanish government to reconsider joining  the UPC.  It argues that not taking part in the Unitary Patent package is detrimental to the competitiveness and innovation of Spanish companies.  It notes that, regarding the language requirements, Spanish companies would not be in a different position than before the EPO.  The PSOE finally contends that Spain should asks for the transfer of the London seat of the UPC central division to Spain.

 

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