A new minister of IP has been appointed in the UK, and despite the clear efforts from the UK parliament to go through with the divorce from EU, there still seems to be an intention to ratify the UPC agreement. In the UK, only one legislative step remains before the UK can ratify the UPC agreement. This last step is the Privy Council’s approval of one draft Statutory Instrument (the Unified Patent Court (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2017). The UK IPO must then request the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to take the final step for the ratification to come into effect, meaning that the Foreign Secretary must deposit a formal letter with the EU Council’s General Secretariat where it is stated the UK agrees to be bound by the UPC Agreement and the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities.
As this could all be completed quite soon, that leaves Germany as the final country required for the UPCA to enter into force, where the constitutional complaint has put the ratification process on hold.
The actual content of the constitutional complaint in Germany has still not been fully revealed. Sources in Germany, such as the highly regarded JUVE, have recently reported that a number of organisations have been asked by the German court (BverfG) to provide their opinions and through these opinions further details have become disclosed. Most of these organisations seem recommend that the court dismiss the complaint as inadmissible, and if it is admitted, that the claims be declared unfounded. Some sources even say that a hearing regarding the admissibility is scheduled for April, but the next steps to be taken by the BverfG have not been confirmed.
However, if these rumours are true, and the court decides to dismiss the complaint as inadmissible, there is still some light at the end of the tunnel for the UPC opening up during 2018.
Further adding to these seemingly good news, Latvia deposited its instrument of ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) with the Council’s General Secretariat on 11 January 2018. This means that Latvia becomes the 15th country to ratify, joining Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden.