The German Federal Government yesterday deposited Germany’s instrument of ratification of the Protocol on the Provisional Application (PPA) of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). The deposit with the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, recorded here, was required for the ratification to be effective. As reported by the Federal Ministry of Justice, this is an important step towards the establishment of the UPC. Germany’s ratification now enables the PPA to come into force (and therefore the provisional application period to start) as soon as two more countries ratify the PPA or otherwise consent to be bound by the provisional application of certain UPCA provisions. One of those countries is very likely to be Slovenia (which is hosting in Ljubljana one of the seats of the UPC Mediation and Arbitration Centre). Slovenia’s legislation ratifying the PPA came into force on 24 September 2021 when it was published in Slovenia’s Official Gazette although the Council of the EU has not yet recorded the deposit of the instrument of ratification. Austria is also expected to ratify the PPA shortly.
The UPC Preparatory Committee’s report of Germany’s ratification of the PPA states that “The participating EU-Member States will take stock when they meet in the Competitiveness Council on 29 September.” This was set out in a Note of 24 September from the Presidency to the Council of the EU: Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court – Information from the Presidency on the state of play. The Note states that the Preparatory Committee expects the provisional application period to last 6-10 months (although some observers have noted this may be an optimistic timeline). It describes the preparatory work required during that period in order for both the UPC and the unitary patent to come into operation, and states that if those remaining steps “are completed in due time, the launch of the unitary patent system could be expected to take place in the second half of 2022.” The Note also includes in its Annex the status of all EU member states’ ratification of the UPCA and ratification of/consent to the PPA.