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Inaugural meeting of the Administrative Committee of the UPC

On 22 February 2022, the Administrative Committee (AC) of the UPC held its inaugural meeting. The AC elected Mr Alexander Ramsay as Chair of the Committee as well as Mr Johannes Karcher (German Ministry of Justice) as Deputy-Chairman.

According to the press release published on the UPC website the main decisions taken were the adoption of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure (not the Rules of Procedure of the UPC) and the adoption of the Rules on the European Patent Litigation Certificate and other appropriate qualifications.

The participating member states confirmed their intention to host local or regional divisions. Interviews for judges are expected to start at the end of next month (March 2022). These will be conducted by the newly elected Advisory Committee (Art. 11, 14 UPCA), whose members were also appointed in the 22 February 2022 session of the AC. 

No statement can be found in the press release regarding the adoption of the final version of the Rules of Procedure of the UPC. Official sources had indicated that several amendments to the Rules of Procedure were to be considered by the AC. Particularly there need to be amendments i.a. concerning unauthorised opt-outs, unauthorised withdrawals of opt-outs, online hearings, and confidentiality clubs as well as data protection. It will be interesting to see whether a further draft of the Rules of Procedure will be made public for consultation with interested parties.

Also, no indication is given in the press release whether there was a decision taken regarding the jurisdiction of the Central Division for subject matter initially assigned to its London Division. Further, the AC did not comment on the "Declaration on the authentic interpretation of Art. 3 of the PAP-Protocol". The draft for this declaration had already been presented at the Preparatory Committee meeting held on 27 October 2021. Although the UPC Preparatory Committee had announced in a press release following the meeting on the 27 October that the signing of the Declaration is foreseen in the context of a future COREPER meeting, no further information has been disclosed on this matter, so far.

The above shows that there is still a lot of work to do before Germany can deposit its instrument of ratification and the Sunrise Period starts. Official sources stated that optimists say the Sunrise Period could start as early as five months from the start of the Provisional Application Period (PAP), but that it seems to be more realistic that this will rather take around eight months. The UPC could thus take on its first cases between October 2022 and January 2023.