- The Provisional Application Phase would start at the end of Spring 2017 (presumably in May). It will allow for judicial interviews to take place and appointments to be confirmed.
- The possibility to opt-out European patents will start in early September.
- The UPCA would enter into force in December 2017.
- The UPC would thus become operational in December 2017 too.
The Preparatory Committee however warns that this timetable is “conditional and provided with the clear disclaimer that there are a number of factors that will dictate whether it is achievable. The most important factors in meeting these dates is the necessary ratifications of the UPCA and accession to the Protocol on Provisional Application.”
It is expected that the next meeting of the Committee which will take place in March gives more details and updates as to whether the UPC will effectively become operational in 2017.
More on the Provisional Application Phase:
On 1st October 2015 a protocol to the UPCA was signed by some member states to allow “final decisions on the practical set up of the Court” to enter into application such as the “recruitment of judges and testing of IT systems“, or the very much talked-about early registration of opt-out demands. The protocol aims at permitting a smoother set up of the court.
It will enter into force after 13 states, that have already signed and ratified the UPCA, approve the protocol either by signing or approving it. So far 9 Member States have signed it (Germany, Denmark, France, UK, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romenia, Slovenia, Sweden) . The UK has however entered a reservation, stating that it “shall not provisionally apply Article 4 of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.”
As a reminder, Article 4 provides that ” (1) The Court shall have legal personality in each Contracting Member State and shall enjoy the most extensive legal capacity accorded to legal persons under the national law of that State. (2) The Court shall be represented by the President of the Court of Appeal who shall be elected in accordance with the Statute.”