The German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has delayed the ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. This is the result of a challenge to the UPC on constitutional grounds by a private individual who has not been named.
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reported on 12 June, that the Federal Constitutional Court has requested the Federal President refrain from signing the legislation, until consideration has been given to the challenge. The Court is of the opinion that the challenge is not “hopeless” and therefore must be heard before the UPC can be ratified. The legislation had already been approved by Germany’s other legislative bodies (the Bundestag and the Bundesrat).
The UPC was due to become operational by December 2017. However, in a statement published on 7 June 2017, the UPC’s Preparatory Committee noted that this target would not be possible due to delays in the ratification process. The delay in ratification on the part of Germany is likely to be a significant factor in the future timeline of the Court, as Germany, along with the UK and France (who have ratified) are required to ratify the UPC Agreement before it can come into effect due to their status as the three EU member states with the highest number of patents.
The Agreement has been ratified so far by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Finland. Ireland has not yet ratified the UPC Agreement as a constitutional amendment to endorse the UPC must first be put to referendum.