German parliament passes bill required for UPC ratification


The draft legislation required for Germany to ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement and its Protocol on Provisional Application received its second and third readings in the Bundestag yesterday and was approved by 570 members, so achieving approval of more than the two thirds of all the 709 Bundestag members, as required for a transfer of sovereign rights.  It was this requirement that was not met for the previous bill, leading to the successful constitutional complaint.  For the previous bill, the vote was late in the evening and, although approved unanimously, very few members were present to vote. Yesterday there were 645 total votes (72 voting against and 3 abstentions).

During the debate, the representatives from the SPD, CDU/CSU, B90/Gruene and the FDP all spoke strongly in support of the law and said their parties would vote for it. The representative from Die Linke also said the party would vote for the law as they believe that overall the UPC is a positive project but noted some concerns about a further constitutional challenge and also the lack of information about the relocation of the London court.  The AfD representative said they would not vote for the law and criticised the fact that no public consultation was held.  Details of the members’ votes are here, and in the minutes here.

The bill will now be submitted as an act to the Bundesrat (Federal Council) for approval.  The remaining steps required for the act to be promulgated are signature by the Federal government (either by the Chancellor herself or the federal minister), signature by the Federal President and, finally, publication in the Federal Law Gazette.  Therefore, there still remains the risk of another constitutional complaint preventing or delaying the legislation coming into force.  The previous complaint was filed in the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) after approval of the act by the Bundesrat, and the BVerfG asked the President to temporarily refrain from signing the act.  Although that complaint included grounds in addition to the lack of the two thirds majority, the BVerfG did not rule on them (see here).  The FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) has already stated that it has prepared a constitutional complaint.

Richard Pinckney


Other news