Unitary patent & Unified Patent Court
The new unitary patent (UP) and, in particular, the introduction of the Unified patent Court (UPC) represent the biggest change in the European patent law in the last forty years.
The unitary patent will provide a single patent right across all participating European Union member states. It will be litigated as a single unit across the territory before the Unified Patent Court. The Unified Patent Court will also be the litigation forum for “classic” European patents. However, during a transitional period it will be possible to avoid the competence of the UPC for the non-unitary European patents by opting them out of the system.
24 out of 27 member states of the European Union have agreed to take part in the new system (subject to ratification).
The new system (UP & UPC) will come into force when at least 13 participating member states, including France, Germany and the UK have ratified the Agreement.
The Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application (PPA) entered into force on 19.01.2022 and triggered the provisional application period for the final preparations of the UPC. It is deemed that the PPA may last at least eight months.
The date of entry into force of the Unified Patent Court agreement is estimated to be towards the end of 2022. The precise date depends on when Germany ratifies the UPC Agreement. Ratification is expected once those preparations are sufficiently advanced.
So far, 16 states have deposited their instruments of ratification: Austria (06.08.2013), France (14.03.2014), Sweden (05.06.2014), Belgium (06.06.2014), Denmark (20.06.2014), Malta (09.12.2014), Luxembourg (22.05.2015), Portugal (28.08.2015), Finland (19.01.2016), Bulgaria (03.06.2016), The Netherlands (14.09.2016), Italy (10.02.2017), Estonia (01.08.2017), Lithuania (24.08.2017), Latvia (11.01.2018), and Slovenia (15.10.2021).
United Kingdom also deposited the instrument of ratification (26.04.2018). However, withdrawal of its ratification was filed after Brexit and was effective as from 20.07.2020.
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