Unified Patent Court Start Date Delayed

Reed Smith

Reed Smith

The Unified Patent Court has just announced (7 June) on its website that the planned entry into operation of the UPC in December 2017 has been abandoned. No new date has been given.

The relevant part of the official statement is that “a few Member States must still agree to be bound by the Protocol before the period of provisional application can start. Due to some delays with these procedures, the previously announced target date for the entry into operation of the UPC, envisaged for December 2017, cannot be maintained.”

The UPC system cannot begin until Member States’ national procedures on ratification of the UPC Agreement and the Protocol on Provisional Application have been complied with. In the meantime, the UPC says that work is nonetheless continuing on final preparations for judicial recruitment, testing the IT and case management systems, and the like.

Whilst a reprieve for companies still working on their opt-out strategy after the announcement of the December 2017 start date earlier this year, the need for urgency may fall away if the green light for the UPC becomes dependent on the UK’s stance on ratification in the Brexit negotiations. This may push back the UPC start date to the other side of March 2019, when the UK is due to leave the European Union, given the implementation timeline built into the UPC commencement procedure. It should be noted that no further announcement has been made by the UK Government since it announced in November 2016 that it would proceed with preparations to ratify, subject to the caveat that this “should not be seen as pre-empting the UK’s objectives or position in the forthcoming [Brexit] negotiations.” In theory a 2018 commencement date could therefore still be possible. We will continue to monitor developments.

The UPC announcement can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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