Italy has deposited its instrument of ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, which is now expected to kick off by the end of 2017.
Italy has taken the last step to formalise its membership in the Unified Patent Court, the supranational court created to have exclusive jurisdiction on unitary and European patents. Last Friday, 10 February 2017, the Italian government officially communicated its ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement to the European Commission.
Law 2014/2016 on Italy’s ratification of the agreement came into force on 25 November 2016, and the Italian Parliament is discussing a bill for the enactment of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the Unified Patent Court, necessary to give legal status in Italy to the Unified Patent Court and to the staff the court’s local division in Milan.
Italy is the 12th country to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement, which can enter into force only after 13 signatory countries have formalised its ratification. The agreement requires that the 13 countries must include France, Germany and the United Kingdom. So far, France is the only one of those three countries to have completed the ratification process.
The German parliament has almost finalised the ratification law, while the British government declared in November 2016 that it intended to proceed with ratification of the agreement, notwithstanding an imminent “Brexit”. However neither the British government nor the Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court have yet explained how it will be possible to overcome the impediment represented by the provision of the Unified Patent Court Agreement that limits participation in the court to European Union member states only.
The Preparatory Committee has nonetheless announced that it expects the Unified Patent Court to become operational by the end of 2017.