When will the UPC and UP start?
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is currently completing preparations to be open for business on 1 June 2023.
The timetable for introduction of the Unitary Patent and for the UPC to begin operations is as follows:
- January 2023: EPO introduces transitional measures of:
- delayed grant procedure and
- early request for obtaining Unitary Patent
- February 2023: German Ratification of UPC Agreement confirms the 1 June 2023 start date
- 1 March 2023: Start of "Sunrise" period, during which requests to opt-out existing rights can be filed
- 1 June 2023: UPC opens; requests for Unitary Patents can be filed and granted
- UPC “Transitional period” of 7 years (extendable by a further 7 years) during which opt-out of European Patents from UPC competence is possible
The European Patent Office (EPO) transitional measures can be used now to slow the grant procedure and to allow early election of conversion to a unitary patent. From 1 January 2023, for any case where a R71(3) EPC communication (a notice of allowance) has been issued but the patent has not yet granted, it may be possible to request delay of grant until after the Unitary Patent system is live, and also to file an early request for unitary effect.
If unitary protection is of interest to you in relation to any pending European patent application, it should now be possible to ensure that grant only takes place after the UPC is open so that unitary effect is available. Your usual EIP contact can advise on this.