On 15 March 2017, the UPC Preparatory Committee hopefully met for the last time before the start of the provisional application phase.
During the meeting, the Committee agreed on a final suite of legal, HR and financial documents as well as coming to a decision regarding the state of readiness for a provisional application.
The start of the provisional application period is dependent on the UK and Germany to accede to the Protocol on Provisional Application. The meeting protocol notes that the Committee apparently was of the opinion that this will happen quite soon and that the provisional application will be able to be implemented in late May 2017. Provided that the provisional application phase does in fact commence in late May, the Court will have enough time to make necessary preparations before the planned entry into force in December 2017.
From the report of the meeting it is also stated that a small, operational team is working to ensure the recruitment of judges, testing of the IT and case management system and resources are in place and trained in readiness for the Court opening. With regards to the rules of the procedure, a new version containing a few minor consequential amendments will soon be published on the UPC website.
Provided that the provisional application phase will commence late May, all systems should be ready for a start of the sunrise period for opt outs to begin in September 2017. This will give business around three months to make any adjustments to their IP strategies.
Even though the actual timetable of the entry into force is subject to change given the progress of the necessary, but still missing, ratifications of the Agreement, the message from the Preparatory Committee is of course to be seen as very positive.