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Unitary Patent Update: More from the UK’s UPC Taskforce & renewal fee discussions

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IMG_8533-0Another UK UPC Taskforce email issued last week with the latest state of play on the implementation of the system. A couple of other unitary patent matters also caught the eye of IPcopy so here’s another round up of unitary patent bits and pieces.

First up, here are the highlights from the UPC Taskforce.

The Preparatory Committee is due to meet again on 27th February and is planning to discuss a range of matters including a revised set of Rules on the European Patent Litigators Certificate, a first draft of the consultation for the court fees structure and a paper on provisional application of the UPC Agreement.

It seems that the EPLC has not seen any substantial discussion since the consultation ended in July last year (seriously, what!?!) even though we are supposedly going to see an updated version of the rules by this spring. According to the UPC Taskforce’s email the inclusion of the rules relating to the EPLC in the next Prep Committee meeting is largely down to pressure from the UK Taskforce to discuss this matter again.

The paper on provisional application of the UPC Agreement appears to have been prepared by the Legal sub-group. Regular readers will recall that provisional application of the Agreement is being considered to allow some aspects of the Agreement to be brought into effect in advance of the unified patent court opening its doors. The UPC agreement itself doesn’t have any provision to allow the Court to smoothly transition into operation and so Article 25 of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties is being considered as a way round the problem.

The UK and the IT system: In response to the chance to get involved in the provision of the IT system for the UPC, the UK received 36 responses across the three available lots (in data hosting, case management and the website). These are now being evaluated and an invitation to tender will be issued to the lucky parties in the next few weeks.

The UK and the location of the London branch of the UPC: Investigations continue and the decision is still pencilled in for the Spring.

Work is continuing on the fees issues, both the court fees and the renewal fees (see below for more on the renewal fees). The Select Committee that is handling the renewal fees is to meet for a workshop later this week (19 February) and for a full meeting on 23/24 March.

More on Renewal fees

Two other matters caught our eye this week, both on the subject of the potential renewal fee for the unitary patent.

First up is an article from the Kluwer Patent Blog that was posted on 9 February 2015. Curiously this article seems to have been taken down within a few days of its original posting. However, IPcopy notes that the blog post suggested that a renewal fee for the UP equivalent to the top four validation countries in Europe might be possible for the EPO to accept but a top five level was more likely as it would be budget neutral for the EPO.  This information apparently came from Margot Fröhlinger of the EPO at a recent Unitary patent conference in Amsterdam. IPcopy notes that although the original article is now longer visible, Google Cache still has, for the moment at least, a copy of the article at this location.

Second up is a recent letter from the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) to Margot Fröhlinger on the issue of renewal fees which highlights the budgetary difficulties AIPLA users have with the European system where the current renewal fees for the top three states in Europe are already noticeably higher than US renewal fees. AIPLA points out that users of the unitary patent system will also need to get a translation of their granted patent done whereas for many users at present this is not the case (because they are validating in London Agreement states only). AIPLA suggests that the Top 3 model should be used by the EPO.

Mark Richardson 16 February 2015

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