Prior to the Unitary Patent Package Conference we have interviewed Alexander Ramsay, Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court and Deputy Director at the Division for Intellectual Property and Transport Law, Ministry of Justice in Sweden. Alexander shares his knowledge with us about the status of the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court. Which last steps need to be taken before the introduction and what are the latest developments?
What is the status and when do you expect the introduction date?
The introduction date will depend on two things, the conclusion of the preparatory work and when the required no. of ratifications is reached. The Preparatory Committee is focusing on the first and is now doing its utmost to conclude the preparatory work by mid-2016. This will then be followed by a period of provisional application of at least 6 months whereafter the UPC Agreement can enter into force and the Court become operational. However to start provisional application 13 Member States, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, will need to ratify or at least get parliamentary approval to ratify the Agreement.
What are the latest developments of the Unified Patent Court?
During the fall the Rules of Procedures where agreed by the Preparatory Committee. However they will need to be amended when the Committee agrees on the court fees and the ceilings of the recoverable costs. The Committee has conducted a consultation on the court fees and the ceilings of the recoverable and is now considering the outcome and working on an adjusted proposal. This is expected to be agreed in the Committee at its next meeting in the end of February. The development of the IT system is going as planned and the team has conducted a number of workshops during the fall. The team is expected to hand over the IT system in the beginning of 2016. It will of course continue to be tested, fine-tuned and adjusted.
Latest news on the selection and training of the Judges?
At the December meeting of the Committee the suggested design of the judicial recruitment and training process was presented to the Committee. The presentation was followed by a debate and the issues will now be further elaborated by the working group. The design of the recruitment procedure is a crucial part of the preparatory work, not only for the actual recruitment, but also for the training of the future judges. This is a highly prioritized work-stream and the Committee will revert to the issue at its next meeting . After the next meeting it is expected that further clarity can be provided. Those individuals who took part in the pre-selection exercise in 2013 and anyone who is interested in judicial appointments should follow developments on the Preparatory Committees website for further updates.
Unitary Patent: latest developments on the practical issues, implementing rules and costs/fees?
The Select Committee is likely to be able to conclude its work in December 2015 on the level of the renewal fees, the distribution of income from the renewal fees and the implementing rules. This is indeed very positive, in particular when taking into account that the decision means an attractively low renewal fee level corresponding to the current accumulated fee level of Germany, France, the United Kingdome and the Netherlands – True TOP 4!
Protocol on the provisional application of UPCA
The UPCA doesn’t include a pilot phase. That means that the Court needs to be functional on the day of the entry into force of the Agreement. This is a huge logistical problem since before that date there would be no international organization with a legal capacity to take all the necessary decisions. The solution to this problem is establishing a period under which the organizational, financial and institutional provisions of the UPCA can be applied provisional – provisional application. This would enable us to formally establish the organization and all the formal organs of the Court. They will then be able to take all decisions in the good order prescribed by the Agreement, e.g. employ judges, form a Presidium and elect the two Presidents! It will also allow the judges to prepare and test run all the systems in good order before the entry into force of the Agreement. During provisional application it will also be possible to file opt-outs at the Registry. This will allow the opt-outs to be effective from the first day of the entry into force of the Agreement.