Another of our semi regular updates on the progress of the unitary patent and UPC.
UPC Consultation on the Rules on Court Fees
The Preparatory Committee’s consultation on court fees has just under a month to run (more details here).
The Preparatory Committee is due to meet again at the end of this week (Friday 10 July). One key area for the meeting is the possible adoption of the provisional application proposal and its timetable. The Provisional application proposal relates to the creation of a “start up” period for the UPC and would provide a buffer period between the UPC Agreement coming into force and the court being operational and actually opening its doors to the first cases (currently the UPC comes into force at the point the UPCA comes into force).
The IT suppliers have been chosen and are: Net Service for the Case Management System (CMS), Miggle for the UPC website and T-Systems for hosting activities. Details of the London IT systems workshop, which is part of a number of workshops to refine requirements and test the CMS, can be found here.
Although the UK has been looking at locations for the UPC it seems the exact breakdown of “who pays what” (Member States vs UPC) hasn’t been agreed yet and the Preparatory Committee will be considering this issue shortly.
It would seem that the Rules of Procedure should be finally agreed at some point later this year. The EPLC (European Patent Litigation Certificate) on the other hand is out for adoption at the moment and it could agreed later this month. Watch the UPC website (and IPcopy!) for more details in due course.
Unitary Patent Renewal Fees
The EPO Select Committee finally came to a decision on the level of the renewal fee for the unitary patent and decided to support the True Top 4 fee level for the Unitary Patent. This fee level corresponds to the equivalent of the renewal fees which have to be paid for the four countries out of the twenty-five EU participating member states in which European patents are currently most often validated. This fee level was apparently “considered attractive for business and in particular for SMEs” though IPcopy has to wonder if there’s enough incentive for SMEs to consider opting for the unitary patent if their usual validation programme is only 2-3 countries.
The UK supported the Top 4 selection after the EPO President confirmed that he was committed to complete a broad review of the financial situation of the Office by 2016. The Top 4 proposal includes a fee review clause which will allow the renewal fee level to be revisited if assumptions around uptake and cost coverage prove incorrect. Work on the distribution key (i.e. how much will individual Patent Offices receive) and other remaining issues will continue in September.
Mark Richardson 7 July 2015