More news has emerged on the steady progress towards ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement.
It has been reported that the Tweede Kamer (the lower house of the Dutch parliament) yesterday approved the ratification of the UPC Agreement, which now passes to the upper house for approval.
The Irish government also recently published its legislative programme for the forthcoming parliamentary session. Ratification of the UPC Agreement requires amendment of the Irish Constitution and the legislative programme includes a bill proposing an appropriate amendment. Any amendment to the Irish Constitution requires a referendum; interested parties may therefore be forgiven for hoping that the Irish constitutional referendum proves to be less contentious than the imminent British referendum on EU membership!
Speaking of referendums, the German parliament has now scheduled its own first hearing on the Unified Patent Court Agreement and this is due to be held on the evening of 23 June 2016, at around the same time that voting in the British referendum will be drawing to a close.
German and British ratification of the Agreement is essential for entry into force of the unitary patent system and UPC. The timing of the German hearing could therefore prove ironic if the UK votes against ongoing EU membership on 23 June. A vote for a so-called “Brexit” could, at the very least, derail progress in relation to the planned 2017 start date of the new European patent system, delaying this until negotiations on British withdrawal have been completed and/or until the text of the Agreement can be amended to proceed without the UK’s participation. 23 June could therefore prove to be a crunch date in more ways than one.