Germany has now signed and promulgated the ratification bill for participation in the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA).
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) will be a court common to the contracting member states, and thus part of their judicial system.
It will have exclusive competence in respect of European patents, and European patents with unitary effect.
Germany has also signed up to the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the UPCA.
The move follows an order on 23 June by the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC).
The consent of two further participating EU member states is required to mark the start of the provisional application period – the PAP.
These additional ratifications are expected in the autumn.
The PAP is the final phase of the Unified Patent Court’s set-up.
When the PAP-Protocol enters into force, the legal capacity and organisational capability of the UPC will be established.
During the PAP, the court’s governing bodies will be assembled, and all the secondary legislation prepared by the Preparatory Committee will be adopted.
Recruitment of the judges of the court will also be finalised, as well as the budget and IT systems.
It is expected that the preparatory work will take approximately eight months.
Instrument of ratification
After this period, and when participating EU states are confident that the UPC can start in an orderly manner, the last outstanding instrument of ratification of the UPCA itself will be deposited by Germany.
The UPCA will then enter into force on the first day of the fourth month after the deposit of this instrument.
Once the UPCA enters into force, the UPC will start its work, and will be available to the users of the European patent system.
Therefore, it is estimated that the UPC will start operations around mid-2022.