On October 1st, seven EU member states signed the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court.
In addition, a number of other states affirmed their support and are expected to sign the protocol soon. The protocol is another milestone towards the realization of the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The provisional application of the institutional, financial and administrative provisions of the Agreement clears the way to make all the necessary legal and practical arrangements, including the appointment of judges for the Court, well in advance. This should ensure that the Court is fully operational and ready to hear cases on the very day the Agreement formally enters into force, expected towards the end of 2016.
The signature of the Protocol further shows the commitment of the participating member states to ensure a swift and smooth entry into operation of the Court. That the Court is established and ready to operate is a pre-condition for the new unitary patent system to come into effect.
“Today’s signing is great news for innovators who will benefit from this simplified and better value patent system. Eight out of the required thirteen states have now ratified the Agreement. Several countries are about to finalize their ratification processes and I am sure that the other countries will do all they can to conclude their own ratifications so the Court can enter into force and the unitary patent could take effect next year,” commented President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli.
A further recent advance has been Italy’s formal accession on Wednesday 30 September to the enhanced co-operation process of the unitary patent package. This brings the total number of EU member states involved to 26.