For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 21 March 2014

When will the Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent System begin? Some sense at last from Preparatory Committee

A little belatedly the IPKat saw this news item on the official Unified Patent Court website reporting the fifth meeting of the Preparatory Committee on 18 March 2014 , which pleasingly announced:

It is clear to the Committee that the ambitious target date of early 2015, decided at its first meeting, cannot be accomplished. The Committee stays completely focused on its task but at the same time cannot let self-imposed deadlines stand in the way of quality. At its fifth meeting it was agreed that the UPC will not be operational until the end of 2015 at the earliest. A new revised roadmap will be published at the website shortly.
When will the sands run until?
Why "pleasingly"?  Well, this Kat in particular is frustrated and annoyed at the ongoing disconnect between official pronouncements, and unofficial but more realistic estimates on the subject.  When updating clients about the progress of the UPC project, it is a waste of energy, and sometimes strains client relationships, to have to continually explain to clients that what they have heard is untrue.  Official pronouncements tainted by over-optimism and in some cases ignorance (see previous grump here) do nobody any favours.

It has always been the case with the UPC and UP that the official pronouncements have suggested timescales far more rapid than any informed observer thought practical.  At the time that the Unitary Patent Regulation was voted in Parliament in December 2012 (see here and note the "soon") and the Unified Patent Court Agreement was signed in February 2013, officials talked as though the real start date might be somewhere close to the earliest possible start date according to the Regulation and the Agreement of 1 January 2014 (Se eg Article 89(1) of the Agreement).

The original Road Map of the Preparatory Committee announced (in a document from June 2013), albeit as "ambitious", that "At its first meeting the Preparatory Committee decided that early 2015 would be a realistic target date for the entry into operation of the UPC."

Until now the official pronouncements have remained unchanged, while observers have suggested, to take a selection, "2015 at the earliest" (Dehns, August 2013), "in 2016 or even 2017 is seen as being realistic" (Kilburn & Strode, February 2014), "2014 ... was always unrealistic, and a new target date has been set for early 2015.  That too is unrealistic, but later 2015 or 2016 is certainly possible" (Bristows, December 2013), and "maybe start not before 2018" (Tweet from KSNH Patentanwalte, November 2013, via IPCopy).

If the official estimates of timescales begin to converge with the estimates of informed observers, that will aid the credibility of all concerned.  We can probably all now begin to agree that talking about 2016 as the start date is probably the most sensible.  For the time being.

Merpel points out that, as to costs, we are still none the wiser.

2 comments:

Gibus said...

Note that some observers even estimates that the eventual date for the entry into force of Unitary Patent/UPC cannot be anything but: never.

Darren Smyth said...

A very good point Gibus. The "never" option cannot yet be ruled out. The Community Patent Convention was after all never ratified. But I think it unlikely (albeit not impossible) that the CJEU will kill off the UP and UPC. More surprising things have happened, but very rarely.

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