Friday, 13 November 2015

Hungary signs the protocol of the Unified Patent Court Agreement

Liberty Bridge, Budapest

Hungary has signed the  'Protocol on provisional application of the Unified Patent Court Agreement'.

As we reported, on October 1, 2015 seven participating member states signed a protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.  The protocol is significant for users of the new system since it makes it possible to have a sunrise period for opt-outs. The protocol is also significant for countries who have to implement the Agreement, since it allows some organizational and institutional aspects to be in place before the Agreement itself is in full force. Hungary was not among the signatories.

I just found out though, that about a week later, on October 7, 2015, Hungary has signed the protocol after all.

Previously, there had been indications that Hungary was getting less enthusiastic about the unitary patent, and not so long ago, a critical article appeared on Lexology, urging the Hungarian goverment to postpone adoption of the regime. Signing of this protocol seems to indicate that Hungary is nevertheless committed to go ahead with the unified patent court and unitary patent.

One of the aspects of the agreement that may be in force before the rest of the agreement, is Article 19. This article states that there will be a  Training Centre for European patent judges in Budapest. The centre already opened, but perhaps signing the protocol may be useful for this centre in some way?

The full list of signatories to the protocol at present are: Germany, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Slovenia. The Netherlands have declared that they will sign the protocol as soon as it gets parliamentary approval for the unified patent court, i.e., as soon as it ratifies.

Photo "Szabadság híd" by András Farkas obtained via Flickr  under a  CC-By license

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Finland taking steps towards ratification--contours of the first 13 becoming visible?

Helsinki Cathedral

A unitary patent working group of the Finnish government has recommended that Finland's Parliament ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.

At present 8 states have fully ratified the agreement: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, and Sweden. At least 13 countries are required before the unitary patent takes effect, but ratification is expected from at least 5 more countries, e.g.: The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Hungary. Perhaps, we may now also add Finland to the list of countries likely to ratify in the near future.  This means we are getting a better and better idea what the first list of participating member states might look like.

The Finish working group also made a proposal on amendments of the Finish patent law. Presumably, Finland will handle the ratification and amendment together, e.g., as is also being done now in the Netherlands.

The news did not include confirmation that Finland will not participate in the Nordic-Baltic regional division of the UPC. Last year, the Nordic-Baltic regional division was announced with Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. According to the Finnish patent office, Finland is considering to set up a local division of its own, which would allow local patent disputes to be litigated in Finland rather than in Stockholm (Sweden).
  

The official report is here, which includes a brief English summary. English commentary from a Finish attorney can be found here.

Photo "Tuomiokirkko HDR" by Guyon Morée obtained via Flickr  under a  CC-By license

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Reading Material for Unitary Patent: Articles, Rules and drafts

Not much case law for UPC yet

As the unified patent court and the EPO are preparing for the start of the unitary patent, the amount of rules is increasing. At the moment, I count ten documents with articles and rules that will govern the unitary patent and unified patent court. In this post I'll try to make a comprehensive list of the primary sources on the unitary patent. 

EU level regulations

At the EU level there are two regulations. These regulation dating from 2012 establish among other things the unitary effect, applicable law, and translations agreements. Below I have also included the decision from 2011 that allowed is the unitary patent to proceed without Spain and Italy. (Although Italy has joined later after all.)

Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection.
The document is available at Eur-lex.
Status: final

Council Regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements.
The document is available at Eur-Lex.
Status: final

2011/167/EU: Council Decision of 10 March 2011 authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection.
The document is available at Eur-Lex.
Status: final


Unified Patent Court

The unified patent court is established in the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. This agreement between EU members has been signed by most of EU member states but is not yet fully ratified. The agreement established the unified patent court (UPC) and its competency. Detailed rules for procedures at the UPC are in a semi-final draft, but cannot be established before the court has been established. A proposal for court fees is available. Recently a protocol was created for the agreement which allows some provision of the agreement to enter into force before the rest of the agreement.

Agreement on a Unified Patent Court
The document is available at the website of the Council of the European Union.
Status: Ratified by 8 member states, awaits the ratification by 5 more states which must include Germany and the United Kingdom.

Preliminary set of provisions for the Rules of Procedure (“Rules”) of the Unified Patent Court
The document is available at the website of the unified patent court.
Status: 18th draft, Adopted by the Preparatory Committee on 19 October 2015. Must be adopted by the Administrative Committee of the UPC, which does not exist yet.

Rules on Court fees and recoverable costs
The document is available at the website of the unified patent court. 
Status: Draft (Consultation Document)

Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application
The document is available at the website of the unified patent court.
Status: Signed by 7 participating member states, does not enter into force until 13 States have informed the depositary that they have received parliamentary approval for the UPC

EPO

The legal basis for the unitary patent is found in the EPC (Articles 142-149a).

European Patent Convention
The document is available (pdf) at the website of the EPO.
Status: final

Draft Rules 1–24 relating to unitary patent protection
The document is available (pdf) at the documentation page at the EPO of the Select Committee
Status: Draft



Adjusted proposals for the level of renewal fees for European patents with unitary effect
The document can be found here. I do not have an official link.
Status: Draft? ('adopted in principle' by the Select Committee)

Photo "Leather Bound Books" by THOR obtained via Flickr  under a  CC-By license