Yet another year of preparation has come to an end and it is time to sum up 2017 and plan ahead for 2018.
When the Preparatory Committee started 2017 we made the assessment, based on all information available at the time, it was likely that we would enter into provisional application before the summer. It subsequently became clear that the German ratification would be delayed due to a case pending in the German Federal Constitutional Court. This means it is difficult to predict a new timeline.
We are following the situation and in the meantime using the additional time available to prepare the functionality of the Court. Some parts of the preparatory work can only be concluded when we have entered the final phase of the project known as ‘provisional application’. I am taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of this final phase and what it means.
What is Provisional Application?
The Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPCA) doesn’t include a provision enabling the Court to have a pilot phase during which the organisation as such is established but the Court is not yet operational. To remedy this situation the Signatory States agreed the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent court on provisional application. The protocol means that the State Parties agree to apply the institutional, organisational and financial parts of the UPCA provisionally before the UPCA enters into force.
Once the Protocol enters into force the organisation as such will therefore be created and acquire legal personality. The Administrative Committee, the Budget Committee and the Advisory Committee will be established at the start of provisional application and will then take over the responsibility of the preparations from the Preparatory Committee.
During the provisional application phase the organisation will be able to conclude necessary agreements with third parties and formalise all the preparatory work done by the Preparatory Committee. One hugely important area that cannot be conducted before the provisional application phase is the completion of the recruitment of the judges. Once the judges are appointed the two Presidents can be elected, the Presidium can be set up and the Registrar and the Deputy Registrar can be appointed.
The Preparatory Committee has assessed that the provisional application phase needs to be a period of between six to eight months in order to have time to put everything in place and prepare for the Court to be operational.
Looking ahead to 2018 I am hopeful the New Year will bring closure to our endeavours and the Unified Patent Court will become a reality providing benefit of growth and European competitiveness.
Until then I, on behalf of my Preparatory Committee colleagues, am grateful for the overwhelming continued support of stakeholders, users, and partners who work tirelessly in the face of many challenges to achieve the vision.
With festive good wishes
Chair of the Preparatory Committee