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Last 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…)
On 20 July 2020 the UK made a statement in Parliament that it had withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.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
The 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…)
The 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…)
Following 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…)
IPcopy 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…)
Jo 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.
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the UK announced at the EU Competitiveness Meeting in November that it would be continuing with its preparations for ratifying the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement.
In an article last week I noted that I was unsure of the steps the UK would need to take to ratify. Since then however I have very kindly been walked through the remaining steps of the ratification process in a conversation with Dr Laura Starrs at the UKIPO.
Following this conversation IPcopy understands the process as follows (Note: any errors or omissions in what follows are my fault alone!):
Preparatory Committee – the next meeting for the Prep Committee is scheduled for this month and the agenda is scheduled to cover some significant items including: judicial salaries, Registry rules, arbitration and the final proposal for the court fees. (Will there be any changes to the level of the opt-out fee? It will be interesting to see the updated proposal in due course.) The Rules of Procedure will require some minor tweaking to incorporate the court fees and also admin errors in the opt-out process and the Rules are due to come before the Prep Committee in April. (more…)
At the last meeting of the Preparatory Committee, the 18th draft of the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court was adopted.
This 18th draft will, subject to some modifications when the court fees have been decided, form the final version of the Rules of Procedure.