Litigation partner Geoff Hussey and Electrical Patents partner Mike Jennings, members of A.A. Thornton’s UP/UPC working group, attended the EPO’s annual conference in Munich on 5 July 2017, discussing the preparation of the European patent with unitary effect (UP) and the Unified Patent Court (UPC).
EPO President Benoît Battistelli mentioned the new Quality Working Group within SACEPO, which Mike has been invited to join as UK representative, and noted the positive feedback of EPO customers on quality. Mr Battistelli and keynote speaker Margot Fröhlinger and other EPO colleagues provided an upbeat assessment of the EPO’s preparations. Ms Fröhlinger referred to the UK government’s progress towards ratification of the UPC agreement and EU-wide enthusiasm for UK participation. Although very little information was available about the recent complaint to the German constitutional court, Ms Fröhlinger reminded the audience that such complaints are usually dismissed; and the recent complaint in Germany is not delaying preparations in other countries.
Representatives from Luxembourg, Germany, France and UK explained that the UPC Central Division court buildings are ready or almost ready. Sir Robin Jacob updated the audience on progress selecting the best candidates from across Europe to become judges for the UPC (the appointments are likely to take some months), and a number of industry representatives (from Philips, Electrolux, Air Liquide, Fractus, Bayer) spoke about their preparations for actively using the UP & UPC system.
The panellists agreed that the UP & UPC project is nearing completion, and is expected to provide a boost to European innovation and competitiveness. The Provisional Application Phase could start in late 2017, with the UPC opening for business in 2018.
Mike Jennings commented: “Despite the uncertain start date of the UP & UPC package, there is a need for industry and IP advisors throughout Europe to complete their preparations in readiness for 2018. A.A. Thornton has been preparing for some years – recruiting litigation experts, establishing our procedures, training our staff, and advising our clients on future strategies – so that our clients can take full advantage of the new options and mitigate their risks.”