Further Delays for the Unitary Patent Package
The start of the Unitary Patent (UP) and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has been further delayed. The expected target date of 1 December 2017 cannot be maintained and a start date of mid-2018 (or later) is more likely.
The Unified Patent Court website announced in a timetable update here that the previously announced target date for the entry into operation of the UPC, envisaged for December 2017, cannot be maintained. A new timetable will be announced soon. The timetable for the start of the UPC (and therefore the start of the option to request a UP) has slipped several times over the course of the project. The latest delay is expected to add another four months to the start date, and so the UPC is unlikely to become operational before April 2018 at the earliest.
Shortly after the announcement of the delay to the UPC preparations, the results of the UK general election were announced, resulting in a hung parliament (no single party achieved a majority). As a result of the hung parliament, it is expected that the UK ratification of the UPC Agreement will be delayed until late 2017 in any case.
The German Constitutional Court also has put the German ratification of the UPC Agreement into some doubt. Apparently, a German individual filed a complaint about the German ratification with the Constitutional Court. The Court has asked the German President to delay ratification while the Court considers the complaint. A German news article about this latest development can be found here.
As a result of these developments, a start date of mid-2018 (or later) is expected for the UPC (and UP). This allows patent proprietors some more time to consider the options with respect to the UPC opt-out.