The Council of the EU has published today the background brief for the Competitiveness Council meeting this Thursday, 29 September 2016. The topic of the proposed unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) system is scheduled in the meeting’s ‘Any other business’, the brief stating that ‘The Council will take note of a report on the progress made towards setting up the unified patent system and the situation concerning ratification of the Unified Patent Court agreement.

The report is the fifth progress report by the Chairs of the EPO Select Committee and the UPC Preparatory Committee. Regarding unitary patent protection, the Select Committee concludes that the legal, administrative and financial implementation is complete and the protection is ready to enter into operation. Regarding the UPC, the Preparatory Committee reports, inter alia, that it will be able to conclude all the preparatory work at its final meeting in October 2016, and concludes with the following report on the timetable: ‘According to the official timetable of the Committee the Court could be operational in early 2017. This was based on the assumption that the required ratifications where received during the fall of 2016. The outcome of the UK referendum has had consequences on the UK ratification process. The time-plan, therefore may have to be revisited. It is highly desirable to keep any delay of the entry into force of the system to a minimum in order to provide the business community with the clarity and the swift entry into operation of the new patent system they require.

The UPC Preparatory Committee is meeting on 10 October 2016 in Paris. Regarding the Competitiveness Council, as the UPC is an ‘AOB’ item for this week’s meeting there is not likely to be any substantive discussion; the Council’s next meeting is on 28/29 November 2016.