The Select Committee…an update on its work programme

Who is the Select Committee and what is its function?

The Select Committee is established under the European Patent Convention. It consists of all the EU Member States participating in the enhanced cooperation. The European Commission, Business Europe, the European Patent Institute and other EPC Member States that are not participating in the enhanced cooperation have received the status of observers.

The Select Committee has -among other things- been given the task to govern and supervise the activities of the EPO relating to the UPC. An important task during the preparatory phase will be to fix the level of the renewal fees for European patents with unitary effect.

Since its first meeting on 20th March 2013, the Select committee has been regularly meeting and publishing communiqués. It appears from its “updated timeline” published by Bristowsupc that after focusing on institutional matters such as its creation, composition and adoption of its rules of procedure, the Select Committee is now looking at substantive aspects and notably legal, financial and budgetary issues.

What are the legal issues that it must address?

After reviewing in June, September and December 2013 the first Draft Rules for the Unitary Patent Protection, it is now reviewing the second Draft. These Draft Rules relate mainly to the procedures that will be administrated by the EPO in carrying out the tasks that the Participating Member States will entrust to the EPO in accordance with article 9.1 of the EU Regulation N° 1257/2012.

In June 2014: The Committee adopted in principle the Draft Rules relating to Unitary Patent Protection, with the exception of some technical aspects that require further discussion.

What are the financial and budgetary issues that it must address?

The financial and budgetary aspects of the implementation of the unitary patent protection concern mainly the level and the distribution of the renewal fees, the budgetary aspects of the tasks entrusted to the EPO in accordance with Article 9.1 of the EU Regulation N° 1257/2012 and the implementation of the compensation scheme for the reimbursement of translation costs referred to in Article 5 of EU Regulation N° 1260/2012.

In October 2013 a first meeting of the Select Committee was held to start discussions on the financial and budgetary aspects of the implementation of the unitary patent protection. During this meeting statistical and financial information were  presented to the Select Committee.

In March 2014:The Committee adopted the rules relating to the compensation scheme for costs for translations of applications filed in an EU official language which is not one of the official languages of the EPO, the reimbursement of which is available to patent holders obtaining a European patent with unitary effect. However, the financial aspects of the compensation scheme, including the amount to be compensated, will be discussed at a later stage.” (7th meeting of the Select Committee of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 26 March 2014))

In June 2014: If the Committee adopted the draft rules relating to the Unitary Patent Protection, however it did not agree on the level of renewal fees which will have to be fixed by the participating Member States in the Select Committee in October 2014.