JUVE has reported here on its recent interview with Alexander Ramsay, Chair of the UPC Preparatory Committee, in which Mr Ramsay described the remaining preparations for the opening of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and said it was realistic to expect that to be in early 2021. That estimate follows the statement last week from Justice Huber, the rapporteur in the complaint in the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht – BVerfG) against the UPC legislation, that he intended to issue the decision in that case early next year (see here). Mr Ramsay’s prediction of an early 2021 UPC opening is based on: the BVerfG decision being given at the end of March 2020 and being positive, i.e. the case is dismissed; Germany then ratifying the UPC Agreement’s Protocol on Provisional Application (which it would be in a position to do) by the summer break; and the Provisional Application Phase (PAP) lasting at least eight months. It should be noted that Mr Ramsay did not mention that for the PAP to start it currently requires not only Germany’s consent (by ratifying the Protocol) but also the consent of one other country; however, as explained here, Austria at least is expected to be able to do so relatively quickly.
Mr Ramsay reported on recent and ongoing preparations for the UPC opening, including ensuring the Registry’s rules will be functional and putting in place processes and guidelines, testing the IT system with all the Court’s processes, and having had a second recruitment round for judges (see here). Regarding judges, there are now about 900-1000 applicants, about 250 of whom will be interviewed in four locations (which can only be done once the PAP has started) and about 50 legally qualified judges and 50 technically qualified judges recruited.
On the effect of Brexit, Mr Ramsay was optimistic that the UK would still participate in the UPC but did not rule out the UPC going ahead without the UK. (For more on the effect of Brexit on the UK’s participation in the UPC system, see A seat at the table, first published in Intellectual Property Magazine, November 2019.)