Today, Austria has deposited its instrument of ratification of the Protocol for the Provisional Application of the UPC (PAP) with the European Council. As a result, the PAP will enter into force immediately. Preparation for the Unified Patent Court can officially start.
19 January 2022 by Mathieu Klos
Austria was the 13th member state that still needed to deposit its instrument of ratification and trigger the PAP. At the beginning of December 2021, the Austrian parliament ratified the UPC protocol. At the time, it did not deposit the instrument with the European Council. However, from today, the UPC can officially begin its preparatory phase.
Protocol dictates that 13 UPC countries must ratify and deposit the instrument in Brussels, in order for the protocol to enter into force.
The next interesting decision is the selection of judges. Furthermore, it must be decided where the UPC Central Divisions will locate its pharmaceuticals and chemicals parts, following the UK’s departure from the project.
In addition, the courts’ IT system needs finalising to ensure compliance with the incoming corporate function systems. Decisions on the implementation of opt-in and opt-out for patentees are also still pending. Following its launch, users can decide whether or not their already-granted European patents will fall under the jurisdiction of the UPC in the future.
In a press release, Alexander Ramsay, chairman of the UPC Preparatory Committee, explained the next steps. He says, “During the PAP, the last part of the preparatory work in establishing the Court will be conducted. The practical work will start with the inaugural meetings of the governing bodies of the court, namely the Administrative Committee, the Advisory Committee and the Budget Committee.”
Ramsay continued, “It is deemed that the PAP will last at least eight months.” With this time frame, the UPC should open its doors later this year.
When the state parties are confident that the court is functional, Germany will deposit its instrument of ratification of the UPC Agreement. As a result, this will trigger a countdown until the agreement’s entry into force. It will also set the date for the start of the UPC’s operations.
However, the most time-consuming task during the preparation phase is judicial recruitment. Ramsay told JUVE Patent in December 2021, “The UPC will appoint approximately 90 judges, but obviously a lot more will be interviewed. Once they are appointed, training can begin. The judges will also vote for the president of the court”.
According to JUVE Patent information, the committee recently sent a letter to all applicants who had applied in an initial round to work as legal or technical judges at the UPC. In the letter, the committee asks candidates to confirm if they want to continue with their application.