Still confident the UPC could open in December 2017
Last week the UPC Preparatory Committee announced it was “confident” that the provisional application phase of the UPC could start at the end of May 2017. This timing would enable the Court to make necessary preparations before the planned entry into force in December 2017.
One caveat was that …”The timetable of the entry into force is subject to change given the reliance on national governments to accede to the Protocol on Provisional Application however regular updates will appear on this website on progress.”
The different national governments are at different stages of readiness; 14 member states have signed to date. The UK signed the Protocol on Provisional Application on 14 December 2016, however a Statutory Instrument to give the Protocol legal effect in the UK is still awaited.
Other UK preparations for the UPC are in good shape; the main implementing legislation was complete last year (Patents Order 2016 No 388) and earlier this month the “Patents (Isle of Man) (Amendment) Order 2017” was published, (the Order gives effect to UP and UPC by making equivalent provision for the Isle of Man to that which are made for the UK by the Patents Order 2016 No 388).
Ratification of the UPC Agreement (UPCA) in the UK was hoped to happen before the UK triggered Article 50. This seems unlikely now, given that it was announced that on the 29th March, British PM Theresa May will trigger Article 50, in which the UK's decision to leave the European Union formally begins. Without the Statutory Instrument to give the Protocol legal effect in the UK, some pieces in the UK ratification puzzle are still missing.
We will have to wait and see how quickly these final pieces can be slotted into place, before we know when the UK will formally ratify the UPCA.