The Unified Patent Court will start to accept cases on 1 June 2023 and the sunrise period for opt-out of European patents from the new court's jurisdiction will start on 1 March.

Germany has today (17 February 2023) deposited its instrument of ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), the final ratification required to trigger the run-up period to the start of the UPC, which the UPCA determines will commence when the UPCA comes into force on the first day of the fourth month after the month in which that ratification is deposited, ie 1 June.

The arrival of the UPC will mark a fundamental change in patent litigation in Europe, providing a one-stop-shop for resolution of patent disputes – with the possibility of pan-European injunction and damages awards but also of the revocation (loss) of patents across participating states in one action too.

Unless other states ratify in the interim, once the UPC starts it will have jurisdiction over European patents designated to 17 states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden – as well as European patents with unitary effect (unitary patents). Patentees can opt-out their European patents from the UPC jurisdiction in advance of the court's start date, during the sunrise period which will commence on 1 March.

From 1 June European patents coming to grant will also be able to be designated as having unitary effect (otherwise known as unitary patents (UPs)). The unitary effect of any UP will be confined to the states that are participating in the UPC at the date of grant of that patent's unitary status – so the first UPs will have effect in these 17 states only (again unless other states ratify in the interim).

Welcoming the deposit of Germany's ratification, the EPO reported that its 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."

Find more about how the UPC will work, and other recent developments on the system on our UPC Hub

Our fully integrated, market leading European patent litigation team is ready to advise on all aspects of the practical and strategic issues which you should be considering in preparation for the UPC – please contact us for further information.

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