Although Greece was one of the original signatories to the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement on 19 February 2013, there has been little news of any progress towards its ratification of the Agreement. However, this month there have been two significant developments: (i) the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights has reported ‘successful completion’ on 1 March 2017 of a public consultation on draft legislation to ratify the UPC Agreement and amend national law and to ratify the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities; and (ii) on 23 March 2017 Greece signed the UPC Agreement’s Protocol on Provisional Application (reported here by the Council of the EU) .
The draft legislation (here in Greek) proposes that there will be a local division of the UPC in Greece (with the possibility of it becoming a regional division with other countries participating and the seat in Greece). The UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities will give legal personality to the Court and provide it and its judges and other staff with the various privileges and immunities.
The UPC Agreement’s Protocol on Provisional Application allows various parts of the Agreement to come into force early and the ‘Provisional Application Phase’ to start, during which final preparations for the start of the UPC system, such as recruitment of judges, can be completed. For the Protocol to come into force, 13 states (including France, Germany and the UK) must have consented to be bound by it and either ratified or informed the ‘depositary’ that they have parliamentary approval to ratify the UPC Agreement. Seven countries (France, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden) currently meet this requirement: progress on consent to Protocol, progress on ratification of the UPC Agreement. Germany and the UK have each consented to the Protocol and are expected to have parliamentary approval to ratify the UPC Agreement in April or May 2017. As reported here, there was a call in the recent EU Competitiveness Council meeting for those countries which have already ratified the UPC Agreement to also consent as soon as possible to the Protocol (if they have not already done so) to enable the Provisional Application Phase to start by the end of May and the Court to open in December 2017.