The UPC Preparatory Committee held its final meeting on 15 March at which it agreed a collection of legal, HR and financial documents and confirmed that the Provisional Application Phase could commence once the final Signatory States had acceded to the Protocol on Provisional Application. The Committee was confident this would be met in time to allow the Provisional Application Phase to commence at the end of May 2017 in order to allow for all the practical preparations to be made for a 1 December 2017 start for the UPC.
The Provisional Application Phase allows matters such as the recruitment of judges, the IT and case management system and other practical arrangements for the opening of the Court and its local and central divisions to progress.
Final amendments to the Rules of Procedure for the UPC were agreed and full publication was promised on the UPC Preparatory Committee site shortly.
Patentees should note that the Committee again confirmed its expectation that the sunrise period for opt-outs of European patents from the jurisdiction of the UPC will start in September 2017. A review of all European patents held should now be instigated, if not already in progress, to determine which may be candidates for opt-out.
The Preparatory Committee acknowledged that the timetable for the entry into force of the UPC Agreement (and hence the UPC and unitary patent system) "is subject to change given the reliance on national governments to accede to the Protocol on Provisional Application", however regular updates were promised on the Committee's website.
In other news, Germany has now passed draft legislation to enable it to ratify the UPC Agreement and to provide corresponding amendments to German patent law. The UK is expected to ratify the UPC Agreement by the end of April 2017.
What patentees and licensees should be doing now
Patentees should now be considering their future patent registration and litigation strategies if they have not begun to do so already…
For more on this and Germany's UPC Agreement ratification, as well as advice on what patentees and licencees should be doing now, see our IP e-bulletin of 23 March here.