March 30, 2022
In December 2021, the EPO reported that the Austrian Parliament had ratified the Protocol to the UPCA on provisional application.
On 19 January 2022, the EPO announced that the Protocol to the UPCA on provisional application had entered into force, following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by Austria on 18 January 2022. The final preparations for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) have therefore now commenced.
During this period of provisional application, which is expected to take eight months, all technical and infrastructural preparations will be made so that the new court can start, and the Unitary Patent system can begin to operate before the end of 2022.
Once the final preparatory works are complete, Germany is expected to take the final step by depositing its ratification instrument on the UPCA. This will trigger a further period of three to four months after which the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent system will go live.
With a view to supporting patent applicants in an early uptake of the Unitary Patent, the EPO will introduce transitional measures with respect to European patent applications that have reached the final phase of the grant procedure. The EPO says that these measures will be made available ahead of the entry into force of the Unitary Patent system.
Unitary Patents will make it possible to obtain uniform patent protection in up to 25 EU Member States by submitting a single request to the EPO, making the protection of inventions for patent holders simpler and more cost effective.
The Unified Patent Court will be an international court with jurisdiction to hear infringement and revocation cases in relation to patents granted by the EPO. This specialised court will make the Europe-wide enforcement of patents easier, offer greater legal certainty and reduce litigation costs. To read the EPO’s announcements in full, click here, and here.