As 2019 drew to a close, a statement was issued by the Chairman of the UPC Preparatory Committee, Alexander Ramsay. As well as touching on progress made regarding the UPC case management system and recruitment campaign, the statement refers to an interview given by Mr Ramsay in which he provided his forecast for the UPC into 2020 and beyond.
Currently, the introduction of the UPC is being delayed by both a pending case at the German Constitutional Court, and uncertainties introduced by Brexit. In his interview, Mr Ramsay indicated that he is eagerly awaiting the German judgement, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2020. Assuming that the German judgement enables Germany to ratify the UPC agreement, Mr Ramsay stated that they would need at least 8 months after Germany has ratified in order to allow for the provisional application phase of the UPC. Only after the provisional application phase would the UPC become operational.
With regard to Brexit, Mr Ramsay commented that there is a strong political will to try to keep the UK as part of the UPC, and he believes that the UK will indeed be part of the UPC when it becomes operational. Mr Ramsay further indicated that we might realistically expect the UPC to be operational in early 2021. Nonetheless, these comments were made just prior to the results of the UK General Election, and it is now highly likely that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020. Previously, the UK ratified the UPC Agreement, indicating an intention to be part of the Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent system when it comes into force. However, signatories to the UPC Agreement are required to be EU member states, so it is currently unclear how the UK’s participation in the Unified Patent Court will be achieved after Brexit without requiring revisions to the UPC Agreement. Therefore, in light of an imminent Brexit, we believe that there are likely to be significant delays in terms of implementation of the UPC.