A guide to the Unitary Patent
What you need to know about the new Unitary Patent system and the issues you will need to consider.
Last week, it was announced that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has a proposed start date of 1 April 2023. The Court will be able to receive cases starting from that date. However, this date is as yet unconfirmed, and will only be certain once Germany deposits its ratification of the UPC Agreement.
Once Germany does this, the UPC will then begin on the first day of the fourth month following the deposit, and the sunrise period will last for the three months leading up to the official UPC start date. Therefore, if Germany does ratify in December 2022, the sunrise period would begin on 1 January 2023, and the UPC would start on 1 April 2023.
As we have detailed in our guide to the Unitary Patent system, the sunrise period is the three-month period before the onset of the UPC which allows patent owners and applicants to get a head start and opt their patents and applications out of the UPC system before any central proceedings can be started against them at the UPC. This would then prevent the possibility of being hit with any invalidation proceedings under the UPC on day one of it coming into effect. Opting out a European patent during the sunrise period is the only way to guarantee that it will not be centrally attacked in the UPC system.
Also, for patent rights owners who do want to have a Unitary Patent, if the response date to a Notification of Intention to grant falls during the sunrise period, it will be possible during the sunrise period to request that the EPO postpones the grant of the patent until after the start of the UPC. We will be in touch with clients to advise them about the opt-out process.
If you have any questions about the UPC, please contact one of our team.