The UK election is on its way (in case you hadn’t noticed) and while Dave, Ed, Nick and Nigel battle it out, UK government civil servants are now in the period of purdah. During purdah, which is the period between the calling of a General Election and the General Election, rules apply which limit what can be said and done in public by civil servants to ensure they are impartial during the election process. As a result the UK UPC Taskforce is likely to be fairly quiet until after 7 May 2015.
Before they went into this period of restricted communication however, the UK UPC Taskforce issued another UPC update, the main points of which are noted below. Also highlighted below is a challenge against the ratification of the UPC Agreement in Belgium (Note: Belgium ratified the UPC agreement on 6 June 2014).
The Executive Committee of the Preparatory Committee met at the end of March to discuss matters including the opt-out process, court fee consultation and privileges/immunities. The next meeting of the Executive Committee is 24 April in advance of the next Preparatory Committee meeting on 5 May. It is noted that the UK has sent detailed comments on the European Patent Litigators Certificate (EPLC) to the Legal Frameworks Working Group and it is expected that the EPLC will be agreed at the May Preparatory Committee meeting. So, not too long now until European patent attorneys find out how onerous it will be to get representation rights at the UPC!
A draft of the court fees consultation also appears to be ready for Preparatory Committee approval. So expect the fees consultation to launch shortly after 5 May.
Work is ongoing on the IT and accommodation fronts for the UK’s London location of the UPC. The IT infrastructure of the court will also be discussed in a joint meeting in Munich of the IT and Facilities Working Groups on 21/22 April.
The Legal Working Group has begun to look into the timing requirements of a provisional application phase of the UPC (i.e. the period between getting the required 13 signatures of the UPC agreement and the court actually opening it’s doors).
In Belgium it appears that the ratification of the UPC agreement is being challenged in the Belgian Constitutional Court – see here. Esoma is the European Software Market Association and they have filed an appeal at the constitutional court along with iMatix (who design and build distributed systems) challenging the ratification of the UPC agreement on, apparently, the grounds of equality of languages, separation of powers and the role of the EPO. Although the linked page contains the usual “software patent” related gripes from the anti software brigade, the actual complaint appears from a brief skim read to be reasonably well formed though we doubt it will have any real impact upon the unitary patent system coming into effect. If anyone is able to shed more light on the complaint then we’d be interested to hear from you (thanks to Dr Ingve Stjerna for bringing this matter to IPcopy’s attention).
Mark Richardson 15 April 2015