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Europe: Unitary patent and UPC progress

Although, technically speaking, the EU regulation on the European unitary patent is already in force, it will only become effective once the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC) enters into force. This will be four months after the 13th ratification of the agreement, with the proviso that at least Germany, France and the UK have ratified the agreement.

Recently, France was the first of the big three to nearly finish the ratification of the Agreement (it only needs a signature of the president). It is the second country to reach this stage, after Austria, which ratified some months ago. Or perhaps the third, since it also appears that Malta has ratified, although at the moment of writing, there is no confirmation of this on the website of the EU, where the ratifications are monitored.

The progress on further ratifications of other countries is less visible. However, what is clear is that in Denmark ratification will depend upon the result of a referendum which is to be held on May 25 this year. For other countries the process seems to be continuing (UK, the Netherlands), without an indication when ratification can be expected.

This means that it still cannot be predicted when the system will enter into force. At present, the Preparatory Committee is working hard to set up and organise the whole new court system, a task the size and complexity of which are hard to overestimate. The Preparatory Committee intends to have everything up and ready by early 2015, but the general feeling is that the necessary amount of ratifications will not be met at the end of 2014.

Moreover, it is believed that Germany is slowing down the ratification process to make sure that the Preparatory Committee has finished the preparations before Germany deposits its ratification. This being said, it is expected that in the course of 2015 sufficient ratifications will be deposited, and that – if the preparations for the organisation of the UPC do not meet unexpected delays – the UPC may be up and running in 2016.

Bart van Wezenbeek


Johan de Wittlaan 7
2517 JR The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 416 67 11
Fax: +31 70 416 67 99


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