The implementation of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), a court system which enables the resolution of disputes involving parallel patents across most of the EU in a single action, is inching closer to reality.
Where are we?
Before the UPC can come into full effect, some preparatory work needs to be undertaken. This includes recruitment of judges and other officials, training of staff and completion of IT systems as set out in the protocol on the provisional application (the PAP Protocol). This is expected to take around 8 months.
Kick-start of this preparatory work (Provisional Application Period, or PAP), requires the ratification of the PAP Protocol by 13 Member States. It is understood from Juve that Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden have already signed the PAP Protocol. The latest to join the group is Slovenia. This leaves Germany, (which is readying itself to ratify the PAP Protocol imminently) and one more state to ratify the Protocol.
When is the UPC system likely to commence?
The UPC preparatory committee has previously stated that it is expecting the Court to become operational by mid-2022, assuming that the PAP starts this autumn. It is believed that, once the PAP is underway, and the UPC implementation look ready to commence, Germany will ratify the UPC Agreement. Once this is done, the UPC Agreement will enter into force on the first day of the fourth month after the ratification.