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May 2017

Possible delay of the UP & UPC project due to snap elections in uk

On April 18, 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap general election for June 8, 2017 (instead of regular elections in May 2020).

On May 3, 2017, Prime Minister May informed the Queen about the dissolution of the Parliament which is the first step onwards to snap elections.

What does this mean for the upcoming UP&UPC?

This announcement will affect the current timetable for the Provisional Application Phase (PAP), previously expected to begin in the middle of May 2017 as the UK already signed the protocol to implement the PAP. Below, we would like to point to possible developments with regard to the UP&UPC project resulting from the snap elections in UK on June 8, 2017, as collected from news reports and information by British colleagues:

With the announcement of the election, a political convention in the UK called "Purdah" came into effect. This pre-election period, specifically the time between an announced election and the final election results, affects civil servants by particularly preventing central and local governments from making announcements about any government initiatives (such as legislative changes) which could be seen to influence the election or favor a party or candidate in the forthcoming election.

As a result, the statutory instrument (brief: SI) for the UPC Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities (PP&I) was not laid before Parliament and will now not be laid until the election is over and the new Parliament begins to work. The next steps after the laying out are a debate and an affirmative resolution in both Houses of Parliament after 42 days. Further, a similar Statutory Instrument (SI) will be laid before the Scottish Assembly, again with an affirmative vote after 54 days. Thereafter, either Prime Minister Theresa May or Foreign Minister Boris Johnson have to formally sign the instrument of ratification to come into effect.

Therefore, there will be no process with regard to the UP&UPC project until the snap election took place on June 8, 2017, and particularly the constitution of the new Parliament is finished. It may hence be around the end of June 2017 or even later before said SI for the UPC PP&I can be laid before the new Parliament, thereby triggering the 42 days and afterwards the 54 days with a similar SI before the Scottish Assembly.

For this reason, at the moment nobody in the UK government will give an estimate of when ratification will take place. Additionally, the regular summer recess in UK takes place around July 20 to September 5, 2017 so that ratification does not seem probable before the middle of October 2017.

This would mean that the Sunrise Period (previously estimated to start in September 2017) and the Unified Patent Court starting date (December 2017) will be delayed. However, as long as there is no updated statement on the position of UK, the Preparatory Committee does not update any estimates in this respect.

Summarizing the above, although there seems to be no change in policy with the UK government, i.e. they will ratify, a further delay of at least one month up to several months until early 2018 will have to be expected until the UPC will start its operation.

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