Today, the German Bundesrat (the upper house of the German Parliament) passed the Unified Patent Court (UPC) legislation, bringing us one step closer to the start of the UPC. To come into force, the law will now have to be signed by the Federal Government, the Federal President and, finally, published in the Federal Law Gazette.

For the ratification to trigger the UPC “count-down” it needs to be deposited with the Council of the European Union. The UPC will come into effect on the first day of the fourth month after the month in which Germany’s ratification is deposited with the EU Council. However, before the UPC can open its doors, the Provisional Application Period needs to start.  Accordingly, Germany is not expected to deposit its ratification of the UPC Agreement immediately.

The Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) provides for the institutional, organisational and financial sections of the UPC Agreement to come into force before the Agreement becomes effective in its entirety. For the PPA to come into force, two other UPC Member States will need to sign it.  It is thought that this could happen by February 2021. Once the PPA comes into effect and the Provisional Application Period starts, allowing final practical preparations (e.g. the employment of judges) to be made in advance of the UPC formally starting to hear cases. We estimate that the Provisional Application Period may last for around 8-12 months, and so the UPC could be open for business in the first half of 2022.

For further information on the UPC, please visit our UPC Hub, or contact any of the members of our European patent litigation team.