Preparatory Committee Adopts UPC Rules of Procedure
January 20, 2016
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is inching ever closer to reality. On January 19th, Finland became the ninth country to ratify the UPC Agreement (UPCA). Four more states (including the UK and Germany) must ratify the UPCA for it to come into force, and those ratifications are expected by mid-2016. On October 19, 2015 the UPC Preparatory Committee adopted the Rules of Procedure for the Unified Patent Court, marking a major procedural step toward implementation (see published Rules here). The adopted text is a modified version of the 18th Draft Rules of Procedure that were published in July of 2015 (which we previously wrote about here). Notable changes made to the 18th Draft Rules in the adopted text include:
- Rule 5: Paragraph 13, which establishes the sunrise period for applications accepted before entry into force of the Agreement, is now finalized. Applications accepted by the Registry before the entry into force of the Agreement shall be treated as entered on the Register on the date of entry into force of the Agreement.
- Rule 10: Rule 10 now specifies that the Court of First Instance may dispense with an oral hearing with the agreement of the parties.
- Rule 17: Rule 17 now specifies that, in addition to allocating actions between the seat of the Central Division and its sections, the Registry will also assign the action to a panel in accordance with the action-distribution-scheme defined in Rule 345.3. The July 2015 version of the 18th Draft provided for the presiding judge of the seat or the section to assign the action to a panel.
- Rule 229: New paragraph 5 to Rule 229 provides that the President of the Court of Appeal shall reject an appeal as inadmissible if the appellant has not met the time limits for the statement of appeal in Rule 224.1.
- Rule 345: Rule 345 now specifies that the President of the Court of First Instance (or a judge to whom he has delegated this task) shall allocate judges to the panels of the local and regional divisions, and to the seat of the central division and its sections. The July 2015 version of the 18th Draft had left this responsibility to the presiding judge of each local or regional division or seat of the central division or one of its sections.
As noted in the text of Rule 370 in the 18th Draft, the Rule on Court Fees will be redrafted after additional consultation. The sub-group of the Preparatory Committee responsible for court fees presented a revised compromise proposal to the Committee on December 7, 2015, subject to further refinement at its next meeting on February 24-25, 2016.
The UPC is expected to begin full operations in early 2017. We will be providing updates on UPC developments, including the status of the court, costs, and finalized rules of discovery. If you would like to receive these updates please sign up for the IP Rights Management mailing list here.