EU Competitiveness Council call for the UPC to be brought into operation as quickly as possible

EU commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska at EU competitiveness Council 29-05-17

EU Commission calls on contracting member states to intensify efforts:

During the EU Competitiveness Council that took place on 29th and 30th May “(s)everal delegations and the Commission called on member states to intensify their efforts so as to bring this major reform into operation as quickly as possible.”  

Similarly, in anticipation of this meeting the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the British Chambers of Commerce had addressed a letter to the UK government and a press release to this effect. In both communications the chambers urge the Government to “do everything within its powers to facilitate the completion of the complex and lengthy ratification process, regardless of the general election and Article 50 negotiations”. The chambers also encouraged the UK government “to continue to play a constructive and active role in ensuring that the Unitary Patent becomes a reality as soon as possible.”

The provisional application phase start date originally planned for “end of spring 2017”: 

Indeed, the Preparatory Committee had recently set the end of May as its target date for the beginning of the provisional application phase. However, as highlighted by the EU commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska at the last EU competitiveness council, this target date has not been met. This means that the possibility for the UPC to become operational by the end of 2017 is looking bleak.

The EU Commissioner pointed out that even the protocol on provisional application could not be implemented yet. In fact, it still lacks the ratification of three contracting member states having already ratified the UPC Agreement. This means that the provisional application phase is being delayed. In the Commissioner’s view this is particularly troublesome. She argues that if the provisional application phase is delayed beyond the summer break the UPC will not become operational in 2017.

The Commissioner however also specifically pointed out that the UK has still not ratified the UPCA. This is of course due to the general elections that will take place in June 2017. The UK minister has nonetheless declared that the UK still wished to participate in the UPC and will ratify the UPCA.

The UK gives green light to ratification of the UPCA

Brexit and the German constitutional challenge

The Preparatory Committee made public on 28th November 2016 the UK’s confirmation that it is proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA).

The Preparatory Committee announced on the UPC website that “(t)his is welcome news. It will allow the Committee to pick up pace on all fronts, in particular, facilitating the planning of when we can expect to have the required number of ratifications to allow the Agreement to enter into force.

The UK government, on the other hand, justified this move towards ratification in its press statement as beneficiary to the industry at large:“The new system will provide an option for businesses that need to protect their inventions across Europe. The UK has been working with partners in Europe to develop this option.

As the Prime Minister has said, for as long as we are members of the EU, the UK will continue to play a full and active role. We will seek the best deal possible as we negotiate a new agreement with the European Union. We want that deal to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy. We want it to involve free trade, in goods and services. We want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market – and let European businesses do the same in the UK.

But the decision to proceed with ratification should not be seen as pre-empting the UK’s objectives or position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU.”

For more info on the new timetable for the UPC published by the UPC see here.