As discussed in previous articles on this website, once it is up and running, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will allow for central enforcement/challenge of ‘unitary patents’ (patents which will have effect in all EU Member States which have ratified the UPC Agreement), as well as certain other patents in these territories. For a more detailed explanation of the system, please see our introductory article here.
We can now report that both Bulgaria and Lithuania have taken the next steps towards ratifying the UPC Agreement.
Having been adopted on 8 April 2016 by the National Assembly of Bulgaria, the legislation necessary to authorise Bulgaria to ratify the UPC Agreement has now been enacted with the publication of the “Law on Ratification of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court” in the Bulgarian State Gazette (No.32/2016). Bulgaria has informed the Preparatory Committee that it expects to be in a position to ratify by the end of April. It is therefore expected that Bulgaria will shortly deposit its instrument of ratification in Brussels with the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU as required for the ratification to have effect.
The Lithuanian government has recently submitted draft legislation to the Seimas (the unicameral parliament) to enable Lithuania to ratify the UPC Agreement and to form, with Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia, the Nordic-Baltic regional division of the UPC. The draft legislation shows a date of entry into force of 1 July 2017.