Update on the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court

27 June 2014

1. Unitary patent

Outstanding legal issues

Ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court has to take place before the unitary patent system can come into effect. See 2. below for a progress report on ratification.

Spain has filed two legal challenges to the “closer cooperation” on which the unitary patent regulations are based. These are pending before the European Court of Justice with a hearing scheduled in July 2014.

Procedural aspects

The Select Committee of the Administrative Council expects to have adopted the Rules relating to Unitary Patent Protection and the translation cost compensation scheme by the end of 2014. No other significant decisions (e.g. regarding fees) are expected this year.

It is clear now that the Unified Patent Court (which has to be up and running before the Unitary Patent can come into effect) is still some way off (see below). The Preparatory Committee has revised its roadmap and now envisages the end of 2015 as the earliest possible commencement date.

2. Unified Patent Court

Ratification

The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court has to be ratified by 13 EU member states, which must include Germany, France and the UK. So far it has been ratified by Austria, Belgium, France, and Sweden with substantial steps towards ratification being evident in Denmark, the UK and Germany.

The Rules

  • We are now on the 16th draft of the rules of procedure with a further meeting to consider the Rules scheduled to take place in Berlin on 20 July. 
  • The key procedural issues that will be of importance to patentees and prospective court users are discussed in detail in our article published in the April 2014 edition of Intellectual Property Magazine. Click here for the article.
  • The overarching issue of fees remains unresolved. In its digest (published alongside the 16th draft of the Rules) the Preparatory Committee specifically stated that the amount of the fee for the opting out of the UP system is a political one which should not and cannot be restricted by the Rules.
  • The Regulation updating the EU rules on the jurisdiction of courts and recognition of judgments to take into account of the UPC was published on 29 May 2014 and will be applicable on 10 January 2015.

The Judges

The training centre in Budapest opened in March 2014. The Preparatory Committee will look to approve a provisional list of potential candidates when it meets in July. The first phase of judicial training is due to commence before the end of 2014. 

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