Unified Patent Court opening delayed by two months

The start of the Sunrise Period of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has been delayed by two months, from 1 January 2023 to 1 March 2023, with the opening of the court now scheduled for 1 June 2023.

The announcement, made in a joint statement this morning (Monday) from Judge Klaus Grabinski (President of the UPC Court of Appeal) and Johannes Karcher (Acting Chairman of the Administrative Committee), follows calls from CIPA and others to delay the Sunrise Period due to concerns over access to the court’s Case Management System (CMS).

It is hoped that the increased time before the launch will enable users to better prepare themselves and find strong authentication providers needed to access the CMS. Users will need both a client authentication (hard device) and a qualified electronic signature. All details can be found on the UPC website. A list of providers that meet the required technical standards is also available. The UPC Preparatory Committee has promised that “more providers will be added as it’s confirmed that they meet the requirements”.

CIPA President Alasdair Poore said:

“This news is really welcome. The decision by the Preparatory Committee is absolutely the right thing to do, to give sufficient time for the strong authentication system to be fully tested before the sunrise period for opt-outs commences. We applaud the Committee’s consideration of the issues raised by CIPA and others. We also appreciate that this was not a straightforward decision: users are in the process of planning for the Court opening, and that also includes managing the grant of existing EP applications to take advantage, where desired, of unitary effect.

“The delay itself doesn’t alleviate our concerns, but gives the time needed for the system to be fully tested before the court goes live. This is welcome given the newness of the CMS and the use of strong authentication. The extra time will allow potential suppliers to test and evaluate their products properly against the UPC requirements and hopefully take whatever action is needed to ensure compliance, and, in turn, to provide choice for users and their attorneys – essential to ensure that users have the benefit of competition as well as alternative solutions. This cannot be guaranteed but we are in a better place now suppliers have the time.

“We now look forward to further guidance being issued so that attorneys can secure the services of compliant suppliers and work with the UPC IT support team to give confidence that the system works as intended before the start of the sunrise period. Given the importance of the UPC to the IP ecosystem in Europe, it is essential that the system operates effectively from day one.”

The UPC has confirmed all other preparatory work is on track and no further delay is expected for the opening of the UPC on 1 June 2023.

Date Published: 5 December 2022

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