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News 16 Sep 2020

A spark of hope for the future working of the UPC

“Pragmatic and legally sound solutions will be found that will enable the unitary patent system to be functional in a near future”. This is the hope of the Preparatory Committee of the UPC, according to a press release they issued in regard to the meeting they held on 10 September 2020.

The start of the UPC is currently prevented, at least  by the lack of ratification of Germany. If Germany acted quickly, they could ratify the Agreement still this year. This still leaves open many uncertainties and potential changes to the Agreement that will have to be filled in later, to deal with the UK’s (purported) withdrawal from the UPC Agreement.

The Court in Germany rejected the original bill to ratify the UPC Agreement due to a missing 2/3 majority in Parliament. Since then, good progress has been made in Germany with regard to the legislation needed for a new bill to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement and the Protocol on Provisional Application. A swift entry into operation of the Unitary Patent System would also be needed to support European Industry, according to the Preparatory Committee. Against this backdrop, issues concerning the effects of the UK withdrawal were discussed as well as appropriate ways forward. A consequence of the UK withdrawal is that a solution would need to be found for the originally proposed seat of the Court in London. Italy would like to see this moved to Milan but such a redistribution is nowhere foreseen in the UPC Agreement. If the agreement were to be redrafted then the whole issue of a distributed central division may need to be seriously reconsidered. Unconfirmed rumours suggest that the tasks of London may be taken over temporarily by the seats in Munich and Paris. This is neither foreseen nor forbidden by the UPC Agreement.

This was the first official meeting of the Preparatory Committee since March 2017 and suggests a determination to keep the UPC dream alive. The meeting was 100% digital due to the pandemic situation and the current travel restrictions and it set a good precedent for the future working of the UPC as a digital court.

UPC Press Release