Germany Moves Closer to Ratification of UPC Agreement

By Robert Margue, Partner

The Lower House of the German Parliament (Bundestag) voted on 26th November 2020 to ratify the UPC agreement. This is the second attempt by the legislature to approve the Bill of ratification, after the first Bill failed shortly before becoming law in 2017, as its constitutionality was challenged, and the Federal Constitutional Court ruled during March 2020 that the Bill required a two thirds majority in both houses of the German Parliament. This time it would appear that the Bundestag got it right, with more than two thirds of the total number of MPs voting in favor (570 Yes, 72 No, 3 abstentions; 473 Yes votes required).

The Bill will now go to the Upper House (Bundesrat), where a two thirds majority will also be required.  It is expected that the Bill will pass this hurdle on 18th December 2020, following which it can be executed and promulgated by the President of Germany for it to become law.  With that, ratification will be completed and deposition of the act of ratification with the Council of the EU can finally occur.

With a couple of ratifications of the Protocol on Provisional Application still outstanding, it can now be expected that the UPC agreement might come into force by the end of 2021. Once the agreement comes into effect, Unitary Patents will be available through the European Patent Office, representing a single patent right which will be valid and enforceable across up to 24 EU member states.