27 February 2017Patents

WIPR survey: UPC won’t be operational by December 2017

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is unlikely to become operational by December 2017, as predicted, according to nearly three-quarters of WIPR readers.

In January, WIPR reported that the UPC preparatory committee announced that the court can become operational in December this year.

And one reader said: “I have confidence that the UPC will be operational in December but uncertainties related to Brexit diminish its use.”

But most readers weren’t quite as optimistic. One major spanner in the works, they said, is Brexit.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit speech in January sparked concerns that the UK may seek to leave the UPC after Brexit.

“We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave,” said May, setting out a 12-step plan that the UK government will use for negotiating Brexit terms.

One reader said: “If ‘Brexit means Brexit’, it’s simply ridiculous nonsense to keep just the UPC.”

Another explained that the UPC becoming operational in December should require an understanding of how the UK will want to “smoothly” exit the UPC after one-and-a-half years, as the nation is predicted to have left the EU by 2019.

They added that there will be no such plan until May 2017.

Although the preparatory committee also confirmed that judicial interviews can begin and “appointments eventually confirmed”, one reader believed that it would be questionable whether the contracts with the judges would all be set by December.

“They need to include complicated provisions for part-time employment of public officers and pensions. In addition, the IT infrastructure is far from being ready,” they added.

That’s not the only worry—despite the UK announcing that it would ratify the agreement, concerns remain over whether Germany will ratify.

According to some readers, there is too much “political standoffishness” between Germany and the UK, with worries that Germany will hold off ratification for political reasons.

One reader was more optimistic: “There is now unstoppable momentum amid rising diplomatic efforts. The UK will not stand in the way. Germany will come under great pressure to complete ratification procedures this spring.”

Another added that “barring an unlikely legislative intervention by hard-line Brexit MPs in the UK, the UK’s ratification instrument will be submitted on time”.

For this week’s question, we ask: Last week, sister site LSIPR  reported that the US Supreme Court ruled that supplying a single component of a multi-component invention for manufacture abroad does not constitute patent infringement.  Do you think that was the right decision?

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More on this story

16 January 2017   The Unified Patent Court preparatory committee has announced that the UPC can become operational in December this year.
18 January 2017   “We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech yesterday, sparking concerns that the UK may seek to leave the Unified Patent Court (UPC) after Brexit.