UK patent attorneys look forward to opening of Unified Patent Court in April 2023

The biggest change to the European patent system and the patent litigation landscape in a generation, the opening of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), is expected to happen on 1 April 2023.

The announcement was made via the publication of an implementation roadmap by the UPC preparatory team which lays out all the key activities and milestones planned for the new court system in the coming months.

CIPA President Alasdair Poore welcomed the news. He said: “This new court has been years in the planning and its opening, together with the consequential inception of the Unitary Patent, opens up numerous avenues for businesses’ patent strategies – from lower cost protection across participating states to centralised enforcement (and attack).

UK patent attorneys, who have rights of representation before the court, as well as retaining rights to assist clients in obtaining Unitary Patents, will be looking forward enthusiastically to participating in the new system.”

The Unified Patent Court will have jurisdiction over the new Unitary Patent, which will be administered by the European Patent Office (EPO) and available to applicants alongside “classic” European patents, once the court opens.

The roadmap indicates that the ratification of the UPC Agreement by Germany will happen in December. This will trigger the start of the court’s “Sunrise period” on 1 January 2023, during which existing European Patents may be opted out of the jurisdiction of the UPC – with some limitations, they may, if desired, later be opted back in.

Unitary Patents will not cover all participating Member States as some of States may not have ratified the UPC Agreement at the time it enters into force. More details on the European Patent Office website.

Applicants will have the option of selecting a Unitary Patent covering 17 UPC participating countries on grant instead of validating nationally in those countries. Classic European patents will continue to be available, with Unitary protection available as an alternative in participating countries.

Date published: 12 October 2022

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