The UPC Preparatory Committee held its final meeting on 15 March at which it agreed a final collection of legal, HR and financial documents and confirmed that the provisional application period could commence once the final Signatory States had acceded to the Protocol on Provisional Application. The Committee was confident this would be met in time to allow provisional application to commence at the end of May 2017 in order to allow for all the practical preparations to be made for a 1 December 2017 start for the UPC.
Matters such as the recruitment of judges, the IT and case management system and other practical arrangements for the opening of the Court and its local and central divisions are in progress, but will be dealt with by other teams.
Final amendments to the Rules of Procedure for the UPC were agreed and a full publication was promised on the UPC Preparatory Committee site shortly.
Patentees should note that the Committee again confirmed its expectation that the sunrise period for opt-outs of European patents from the jurisdiction of the UPC will start in September 2017. A review of all EPs held should now be instigated, if not already in progress, to determine which may be candidates for opt-out.
The Preparatory Committee acknowledged that the timetable of the entry into force of the UPC Agreement (and hence the UPC and unitary patent system) "is subject to change given the reliance on national governments to accede to the Protocol on Provisional Application", however regular updates were promised on its website.
Germany has now passed draft legislation to enable it to ratify the UPC Agreement and to provide corresponding amendments to German patent law. The UK is expected to ratify the UPC Agreement by the end of April 2017.