Following yesterday’s deposit by Austria of its instrument of ratification of the Protocol on Provisional Application of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court, the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union has just declared that the Protocol has now entered into force. Similar statements were issued by the European Patent Office and the Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court.

The Preparatory Committee also declared that this event signals the birth of the Unified Patent Court as an international organisation and that the last part of the preparatory work in establishing the Court, and in particular the recruitment of Judges, will now be finalized. It forecasts a timeline of no less than eight  months for the process to be completed and the UPC to start its operations. Germany will act as gatekeeper, depositing the instrument of ratification of the UPCA and hence allowing the Court to start operating as soon as the preparatory work is about to be completed (the UPCA will enter into force on the first day of the fourth month after the deposit of the German instrument of ratification).

The Preparatory Committee also announced that the inaugural meetings of the governing bodies of the Court, namely the Administrative Committee, the Advisory Committee and the Budget Committee, will soon take place. It is unclear whether these meetings will be preceded by the signing ceremony of the draft Declaration on the authentic interpretation of Article 3 of the Protocol, which had been anticipated by the Preparatory Committee to address the uncertainties following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Unitary Patent System (for additional details, see here) and support the view that Article 3 of the Protocol is to be interpreted as mirroring Article 89 of the UPCA.

As additional confirmation of the commitment of the institutional stakeholders in having the system to start operating soon, the EPO yesterday also announced that it will introduce transitional measures with respect to European patent applications having reached the final phase of the grant procedure. These measures will be made available ahead of the entry into force of the Unitary Patent system. Further details will likely be released soon.