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Inclusivity, accessibility and the UPC CMS platform

An image of the EU flag

Much has been written recently about the case management system for the Unified Patent Court, both on this blog and elsewhere (Kluwer blog). However, as well as issues with identifying eIDAS providers who can meet the requirements of the UPC’s strong authentication system and also provide remote identification services, IPcopy notes that the “remote ID” solutions being offered involve requirements that potentially make them inaccessible or unusable for some people.

Having recently gone through the remote ID process with one of these providers, this blog notes that, while it may be relatively painless for most users, it may be unusable for some disabled people. The fallback identification options for the provider we used require either a face-to-face visit to their premises or the services of a notary. Such fallback options will add a layer of complexity and cost.

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Are the UPC rules on opt out flawed?

IMG_8533-1With the UPC sunrise period due to start on 1 January 2023, the patent profession is anticipating filing many advance opt out requests in respect of their clients’ existing EP patents.

However, is there a flaw in the opt out rules that means some EP patents will require a lot more work before they can be opted out or even make it impossible to opt some patents out? (more…)

UPC Case Management System – not ready for primetime?

IMG_8533-0The UPC Preparatory Committee has announced a potential start date of 1 April 2023 for the unitary patent system with the sunrise period scheduled to start on 1 January 2023.

A key part of the UPC will be a fully functional case management system but there are unfortunately many unanswered questions regarding this IT platform with many patent attorneys in the dark about how to efficiently lodge bulk opt out requests and, with less than three months to go before the sunrise period is scheduled to start, a need to get to grips with the recently announced strong authentication system requirements. (more…)

Obstacles remain for the Unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court

IMG_8533-1Last week ratification legislation for the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) entered into force in Germany. This move follows years of delays caused by challenges to the UPCA in the German Federal Court.

On the face of it, the path to a functioning unitary patent system seems clear and a new operational start date of “around mid-2022” has been published by the UPC Preparatory Committee. However, a number of further steps and obstacles remain, some of which seem more than just formalities. (more…)

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: the UK withdraws from the Unitary Patent project

On 20 July 2020 the UK made a statement in Parliament that it had withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. As noted on the Unified Patent Court website the UK also deposited a withdrawal notification with the Council Secretariat. The UPC Preparatory Committee has stated it will now discuss the consequences of the UK withdrawal and agree a way forward.

Given the UK Government’s view of the CJEU, the statement doesn’t come as a huge surprise though it will presumably be a disappointment for those UPC supporters who were holding out hope that the UK and the other participants would work out some way for the UK to stay in the system.

The UK’s withdrawal from the UPC is, of course, not the only issue to hit the unified patent court project this year as the German Constitutional Court found that the German ratification legislation was unconstitutional.

What comes next for the unitary patent project is unclear. While the system still has its supporters who continue to say that the system could go live as early as [Readers should insert today’s date plus 6-12 months] there are a number of matters that are unclear, namely:

  • Is the UK’s withdrawal notification sufficient? The UPC Agreement does not have any withdrawal provisions but the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties does provide mechanisms for withdrawal from treaties with no withdrawal provisions. Whether the UK’s withdrawal is currently effective may be unclear however and may require amendment of the Protocol to the Agreement on the UPC on provisional application.
  • Where will the London seat of the Central Division be relocated to? Although the provision governing when the UPC Agreement comes into effect does not mention the UK (see Article 89 UPCA), Article 7 which relates to the Court of First Instance does explicitly mention the UK and Annex II to the Agreement details the technical split in cases between London, Paris and Munich. Will the UPC Agreement require amendment to remove the references to London and, if not, will other interested countries (e.g. the Netherlands, Italy) be happy for the system to come into effect without first dealing with this issue?
  • How attractive will the unitary patent system without the UK be for applicants? Also, will the renewal fees for the Unitary Patent need revising in light of the UK’s departure?

The UK announcement is the latest in a line of setbacks for the system. IPcopy remembers the pan-European Intellectual Property Summit way back in December 2012 where the keynote speech suggested that all the stops would be pulled out in order to allow the first unitary patent to be granted in Spring 2014(!) and yet here we are, some 6 years beyond that point, with no real end in sight for the ratification process.

Mark Richardson 8 September 2020

 

CIPA webinar – A practical perspective of the UP/UPC (from an in-house position)

IMG_8533-1The CIPA UP/UPC seminar series continued recently with “A practical perspective of the UP/UPC (from an in house perspective)” from Maja Schmitt, Head of Global Administration at DSM.

Maja presented a slightly different perspective on the unitary patent system and rather than focussing on the unitary patent/unified patent court rules or the intricacies of using the UPC’s case management system, Maja looked at the challenges of mobilising an in-house team into being ready for a system that could move from a state of “nearly ready” to “live” within the space of 6-8 months. (more…)

CIPA Seminar: Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court for Attorneys

IMG_8533-0The CIPA seminar series relating to the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court resumed last week with the session “Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court for Attorneys”. This session, which was presented by Julia Gwilt, took a look at the ways in which the unitary patent system may impact the way that European Patent Attorneys will need to work.

The session provided a quick overview of the unitary patent system and then took a closer look at the procedure before the EPO (when requesting unitary effect) and the procedure before the Unified Patent Court (when requesting or withdrawing an opt-out).

We won’t cover the basics of the unitary patent system again here and readers wanting a quick recap of the system are invited to check out IPcopy’s report on the first CIPA seminar on this subject which can be found here. (more…)

Brexit and IP – looking ahead in 2018

IMG_8533Following the UK’s EU referendum and the triggering of the Article 50 notification, the UK is currently scheduled to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Until the final arrangements between the UK and the EU are known there is widespread uncertainty in a range of areas including the intellectual property system within the UK.

For example, a particular IP related area of concern is what will happen in respect of EU Trade Marks (EUTMs) and Registered community designs (RCDs) post-Brexit. Without arrangements to the contrary it is unlikely that such EUTMs and RCDs will continue to cover the UK post-Brexit. [However, it is noted that it is completely within the UK’s ability to arrange for the implementation of an equivalent UK trade mark or design right to mirror the EU right. As such, holders of EUTMs and RCDs should expect that, even if arrangements are currently unclear, it is highly likely that the UK will announce the mechanism for continued protection in due course.]

As the UK and the EU move into the next phase of the Brexit negotiations IPcopy thought that this would be a good opportunity to recap how the referendum result impacts the IP world, what the current official announcements are and what action IP right holders can consider taking now. (more…)

UPC update – February 2017

IMG_8533-1IPcopy recently attended two events that discussed updates to the Unitary patent and Unified Patent Court: CIPA’s “The UPC: Where we are and Why” and the Westminster Legal Policy Forum’s “The future for the UK’s patent framework”.

The CIPA event included presentations from Kevin Mooney (Simmons & Simmons and Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Rules of Procedure of the UPC), Dr Laura Starrs (UK Intellectual Property Office) and Tony Rollins (CIPA President) and the WLPF event included contributions from Kevin Mooney, Tim Frain (Nokia), Tony Rollins, Matt McBrien (BAE Systems) and Margot Fröhlinger (EPO).

IPcopy has summarised some of the points below. (more…)

Johnson and Johnson provide path to UK’s ratification of the UPC Agreement

IMG_8533Jo Johnson, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, last week picked up responsibility for Intellectual Property (from Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe who has moved to a Treasury role). On Wednesday last week Mr Johnson appeared with Jenny Dibden (Director of Science & Research at BEIS) and Sean Dennehey (Acting CEO at UKIPO) at a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee session (video of the event can be found here).

The session was quite wide ranging with questions about the Government’s Industry Strategy Challenge fund, the state of innovation in the UK, the opportunities for collaboration between business and universities and the role of the UKIPO in assisting the public in protecting their inventions and IP.

The main event though, as far as IPcopy was concerned, was the exchange between Derek Thomas MP and Jo Johnson MP about the Unified Patent Court. (more…)