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Unified Patent Court (UPC) Roadmap
The Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) published a revised roadmap on 16 September 2014.
The revised roadmap is an update on the progress which has been made in preparation for the opening of the UPC, and reiterates the position set out by the Preparatory Committee that the court will not be ready before the end of 2015.
The Preparatory Committee itself acknowledges that this revised timetable is ambitious, and it considers ensuring the quality and efficiency of the new court to be far more important than readying the new court as quickly as possible.
In summary, the roadmap specifies that:
- A revised draft of the rules on the litigation certificate for patent attorneys is expected to be delivered in ‘early 2015’;
- The Finance Group is considering a draft schedule of court fees. This includes both fixed fees and a method for calculating ‘value-based’ fees for those matters which go above the fixed fee ceiling. A second draft of the fees is expected to ready for discussion in spring 2015;
- A public hearing of user organisations is scheduled for late November 2014. After the public hearing and some further consideration, the Committee expects there to be agreement on the Rules of Procedure in May 2015;
- The electronic filing and case management system of the UPC is likely to be procured in autumn 2014. Development and testing of this system is expected to be finalised by the last quarter of 2015;
- A provisional list of both legally and technically qualified judges has been approved by the Preparatory Committee. Training programmes for those judges deemed to require it will begin in December 2014; and
- The Committee intends to appoint enough part-time and full-time judges before the UPC begins operating, and further to create a reserve list of judges who may be appointed if the level of cases before the UPC increases sufficiently.
The original roadmap document can be found here http://www.unified-patent-court.org/images/documents/roadmap-201409.pdf.
It seems that certain key member states will not ratify the UPC Agreement until the court is ready. Therefore, based on the timetable set out in this latest roadmap (and the three-month post-ratification period set out in Article 89 of the UPC Agreement), it seems unlikely that the UPC will ‘go live’ before April 2016.
In the meantime, the progress made by the Preparatory Committee is shown by the fact that the UPC has released a prototype of its intended IT system. The system allows users to complete and file claim forms and other forms, and the Preparatory Committee is encouraging potential users to test it.
We therefore expect that the UPC will not be fully operational before 2016. Of course, this date may change, and we will continue to monitor and report on the progress of the implementation of the UPC http://mskpatents.com/patents/unified-patent-court/ .