Unified Patent Court ("UPC") ratification - 5 down, 8 to go ...
June 2014 has been a busy month in terms of countries ratifying the UPC agreement.
The Council of the European Union have reported here that Sweden, Belgium and Denmark ratified the UPC agreement during June 2014 so that now 5 out of the required 13 states have ratified the UPC agreement.
So which eight countries are most likely to ratify the UPC agreement next thereby bringing the Unitary Patent system finally into existence?
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden have agreed to establish a Nordic-Baltic regional division and so it is assumed that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will, in due course, ratify the UPC agreement bringing the total number of ratifying states up to 8 out of the required 13 states.
As reported here, the UK appears to be on track to ratify the UPC agreement by early 2015 and it is believed that Germany is also likely to ratify in 2015. For example, Germany announced back in March 2014 that they were proposing to host four local divisions in Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Munich and Hamburg.
Assuming that the UK and Germany ratify the UPC agreement in 2015 then this would bring the expected total number of states ratifying the UPC agreement up to 10 out of the required 13 states.
Luxembourg will host the Court of Appeal and it is understood that Parliamentary ratification was initiated by a letter from Henri Grand Duc de Luxembourg of June 13th 2014 to the Luxembourg Parliament, received there on June 16th 2014 (further details here). Assuming that Luxembourg duly ratifies the UPC agreement then this will bring the expected number of states ratifying the UPC agreement up to 11 out of the required 13.
It is believed that Malta has ratified the UPC agreement but has not yet deposited its instrument of ratification. Accordingly, 12 out the required 13 states are likely to ratify.
So the UPC agreement probably only needs one further state to ratify. Out of the remaining countries, it is perhaps most likely that either Finland, Ireland or the Netherlands will take steps to ratify the agreement.
Accordingly, the recent flurry of ratifications makes it look increasingly likely that the required number of countries will ratify the UPC agreement by the end of 2015 especially since many countries have a parliamentary process which enables ratification to occur within a matter of months.
So it is perhaps more likely than not that Unitary Patents will finally become a reality in 2016.
Phil Jeffrey, Partner