With the news on Friday 17 February 2023 that the Federal Republic of Germany has ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC), the UPC has confirmed that the UPC Agreement will enter into force on 1 June 2023.
With the advent of the UPC, the European Patent Office will also be able to grant Unitary Patents, which will cover 17 EU members states when the system starts.
Understandably, the EPO has welcomed the news. EPO President António Campinos said,
"The deposit by Germany opens the door for a new era of IP protection in Europe. Under the Unitary Patent system, European businesses will be able to benefit from broader and more effective patent protection at lower costs, which is particularly important for smaller entities. The start of the long-expected system is the result of close co-operation and constructive work of all partners and stakeholders of the European patent system. It will be a boon for the European economy as it establishes a uniform technology market facilitating transactions across a big economic region. While later this year we are going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our founding treaty, the European Patent Convention, this huge step represents a historic moment for innovators and the protection of inventions in Europe."
From 1 March 2023, existing European patents can be opted out from the jurisdiction of the UPC in a sunrise period - the procedure for this is not straightforward so advice should be sought from a FICPI member entitled to act before the UPC, who are generally European Patent Attorneys with a litigation qualification. Read more