Unified Patent Court delayed by months, not years, suggests body delivering reforms

Unified Patent Court

Delays to the operation of a new unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) system in Europe will hopefully be measured in months, not years, according to a new statement issued by the body tasked with laying the foundations for the new judicial system to take effect.

UPC Preparatory Committee chairman Alexander Ramsay outlined a tentative new timetable for the reforms on Tuesday. The statement is the clearest indication the Committee has given since January of the likely timeframe for the unitary patent and UPC reforms to take effect.

Ramsay welcomed the fact that the UK has now laid legislation necessary to ratify the UPC reforms before the country’s parliament, and confirmed Estonia is also moving closer to ratification. However, he flagged the need for three other EU countries, including Germany, to ratify before the UPC can become operational. He mentioned the uncertainty around German ratification caused by the fact a legal challenge has been brought against news laws passed recently by the country’s parliament. That legal challenge concerns whether those laws are constitutional.

Ramsay said it was difficult to be precise about the timetable for reforms given the continuing uncertainty, but did explain what timescales he hoped could be worked to.

“Under the current circumstances it is difficult to maintain a definitive starting date for the period of provisional application,” Ramsay said. “However, I am hopeful the situation regarding the constitutional complaint in Germany will be resolved rather quickly and therefore I am hopeful that the period of provisional application can start during the autumn 2017 which would mean that the sunrise period for the opt out procedure would start early 2018 followed by the entry into force of the UPCA and the UPC becoming operational.”

“A more detailed timetable will be communicated … as soon as the picture is clearer,” he said.

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