“Relocation would have minimal consequence on UPC budget”

According to Alexander Ramsay, chairman of the UPC Preparatory Committee, which country will host London's UPC division is as yet undecided. Previously, the Unified Patent Court's pharmaceutical, chemical and human necessity divisions were to be housed in Aldgate Tower, located in the heart of the City. But in February of this year, the UK withdrew its ratification. Industry calls for a functioning court are getting louder. So which country is poised to take up London's mantle?

5 October 2020 by Konstanze Richter

Alexander Ramsay Alexander Ramsay is currently leading the preparations for the UPC. As deputy director of Sweden‘s Ministry of Justice, he has been involved in the negotiations for the EU patent directive since 2008 ©P.Venus/Capital Headshots Berlin/JUVE

JUVE Patent: After the UK’s withdrawal from the UPC, several countries expressed an interest in hosting London’s division. But now word has it that, during the interim period, Paris and Munich will host the divisions. Can you confirm this?
Alexander Ramsay: How to deal with the issue of the section of the central division of the Court of First Instance, that according to Article 7(2) of the UPC Agreement was supposed to be located in London, is a matter for the State Parties to the Agreement. At the latest meeting of the Preparatory Committee, on 10 September, the committee took due notice of the call from European industry for a swift entry into operation of the Unitary Patent System.

Against this backdrop, the committee discussed issues concerning the effects of the UK’s withdrawal from the UPC. This is as well as legal and practical issues. Good progress was made, and I am confident of pragmatic and legally-sound solutions that will enable the Unitary Patent System to be functional in the near future.

The Preparatory Committee has by its nature a preparatory role. It can only pave the way for future solutions for the parties to the UPC Agreement once the necessary ratifications for the UPC’s times entry into force have been achieved.

“When the last two states ratify the UPC, the application phase can begin”

What is the current time frame?
Firstly, the German Bundestag must decide on German ratification. We hope that this will be the case by the end of the year. Together with Germany the number of ratified member states will come to eleven. In order to achieve the necessary 13 ratifications, two more ratifications are necessary. But I am carefully optimistic that as soon as we have them, we can quickly move on to the provisional application phase.

Who takes over the extra cost of relocation?
It is important to keep in mind that the hosting member states are providing the facilities and administrative support staff of the UPC divisions. The UPC will, in the first seven years, provide only for the judges’ salaries. Therefore, a possible relocation would have minimal consequences for the UPC budget. Nevertheless, the delay we are experiencing has created some extra costs. The sooner the UPC is operational, the sooner it can become self-sufficient.

This interview was conducted by Konstanze Richter.