As we approach Christmas we have some more updates on the progress towards the unitary patent package. This post incorporates information gleaned from the EPO Select Committee website, the Unified Patent Court website and also an information update from the UK’s UPC Taskforce.
The Preparatory Committee met for the last time in 2014 on 4 November. Ratification progress was discussed and although no further ratifications are expected in 2014 a number of countries are expecting to ratify in the first half of 2015.
As previously reported there will be a consultation on the subject of the court fees. This is now expected to start in Spring 2015. The feedback from the European Patent Litigation Certificate consultation is being processed and revised Rules are expected to be presented to the Committee at the next meeting (which is expected in February 2015). And on the subject of future meetings, the Preparatory Committee is expected to meet in February, April, June, October and December 2015.
The prototype case management system can be accessed at http://prototype.unified-patent-court.org/. There have apparently been in excess of 1200 users so far with 200 accounts created. Users have come from almost 50 countries. In response to early feedback a form for a “saisie” order (an application for preserving evidence, UPC rule 192) has been added, and two different versions of the statement of claim for infringement are now on the system.
The tender specification is being prepared and apparently there are some differing security considerations surrounding the issue of identity verification to be considered, patent lawyers and government lawyers apparently having different needs in this area. The prototype will also be assessed in a (final) user workshop in Munich on 27 November.
The UK recently held a public consultation on the secondary legislation needed for the UK to ratify the UPC Agreement. The government response to this consultation is expected by the end of this year.
HR and Training Workstream
There was an HR and Training Working Group meeting on 30 October. Training is to begin in January 2015. The UK is expected to be involved with the hosting of internships of candidate judges (More on this topic here).
The EPO Select committee met on 28 and 29 October to continue discussions on renewal fee levels and the administrative rules for the Unitary Patent. Technical amendments to the administrative rules were agreed though one point related to the surrender of unitary patents was left for further discussion next month. A consolidated version of the rules should become available after the next meeting.
The EPO gave a presentation on cost estimates for administering the unitary patent, a simulation regarding SME fee reductions was discussed and a paper on the criteria for distributing renewal fee revenue amongst the participating states was also briefly discussed.
Mark Richardson 11 November 2014