Estonia ratified the UPC Agreement (UPCA) on 1 August 2017, making it the thirteenth contracting member state to do so (see the European Council’s ratification index here). Under the terms of the UPCA, the Agreement can only come into effect once at least 13 contracting states have ratified, but these must include France, Germany and the UK (if all other ratifications are in place prior to Brexit) or Italy (if post-Brexit). France and Italy have already ratified, as have Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Finland. Once all the required ratifications are in place the UPC can commence on the first day of the fourth month after the last required ratification.
For our report on the delay to German ratification caused by a constitutional challenge see our Latest News item of 15 June here.
The UK put some of the UPC ratification legislation before Parliament in June (The Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017. See our Latest News item of 28 June here.
Ireland’s ratification is not a pre-requisite for the UPCA to come into effect (now that there are already sufficient ratifiers) but its process is worthy of note as it requires a referendum. A recent announcement suggests this will happen at some point in the next two years.
One other key ingredient is also missing: there have also been delays to the Protocol on Provisional Application which is required to be ratified by contracting states in order to allow the administrative preparations for the courts, including the appointment of judges, to go ahead in order for the UPC to be ready immediately the UPC Agreement comes into force.
For more on the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent see our dedicated UPC and UP Hub www.hsf.com/upc.