In preparation for the Unified Patent Court Agreement coming into force, a protocol has been agreed and drawn up for signature among participating states for establishment of the Court on a provisional basis. The Protocol was published on 1 October 2015 and can be agreed by ratification, signature or simple declaration of intent to comply. At the same time, the UPC preparatory committee announced its expectation that all will be ready in June 2016 and the Court will open for business “at the start of 2017”.
The protocol gives effect to those articles of the Agreement and Court Statute that establish the Court and the Registry, including the Administrative Committee, the Budget Committee, the Advisory Committee, the Judges’ Training Centre and the Mediation Centre. It allows for establishment of first instance local and regional divisions and allows judges to be appointed, sworn in and trained, and staff to be hired (and fired).
It comes into force when 13 Member States (including UK, France and Germany) have ratified the Agreement (8 have already done so) or merely informed the Commission that they have parliamentary approval to ratify the Agreement. This allows the “gatekeeper” states of UK and Germany to go ahead and agree these essential preliminary sections of the Agreement on a provisional basis before actually declaring ratification of the whole thing. Full ratification will set in motion the timetable for the Court to open its doors for business, and it is fully expected that parties are waiting in the wings to file complaints on Day One (e.g. for revocation of existing European patents that have not been opted out).
Meanwhile, the UKIPO has signed a lease for space for the London section of the Central Division and for the UK Division of the Court. They are to be located in Aldgate Tower in the City of London.
Our David Musker attended the opening reception hosted by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Intellectual Property Minister.