Despite the recent forecasts, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent (UP) are not likely to be operational in December 2017. Rather, we now expect the earliest start date to be after March 2018. As further delays are not unthinkable, if and when the UPC and UP become operational is still far from certain.
We anticipate a more certain picture to emerge in September/October 2017. If ratification remains on course, businesses would still likely have 2-3 months to finalise plans before the provisional period and sunrise register begins perhaps in early 2018. The timetable would then be set for the UPC and UP to become operational perhaps in March 2018. Alternatively, if there are going to be significant further delays, we expect those to have emerged.
The recent timetable predicting a December 2017 start was based on UK ratification being completed in April 2017. The last step to UK ratification is the passing through parliament of the Statutory Instrument (SI) on Privileges and Immunities. The SI had been delayed and then put on hold by the UK snap general election. With the UK Parliament’s summer recess, it is likely the fate of the SI’s passage through parliament will not be clear until September/October 2017. At this stage, the timetable to the UPC and UP becoming operational may at last have some certainty.
The timetable will be further delayed if the German ratification procedure is held up. Early indications in June 2017 have suggested the German ratification procedure will be delayed pending a constitutional appeal regarding potential conflict between the UPC and national German law. Again, we are expecting a more concrete picture to emerge towards the end of 2017.
Businesses that have not already planned their strategy to deal with the opt-out and UP implementation could have certainty over the timetable and when their plans need to be finalised towards the end of 2017. As the timetable may be relatively short, businesses looking for assistance in finalising plans should contact us.
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