On February 10, 2017, Italy became the 12th member state ratifying the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC). 

Italy, who had initially expressed reservations regarding the project of a new European system for patents, composed of the Unitary Patent (UP) and the Unified Patent Court (UPC), now gives a strong message in ratifying the UPC agreement and we hope that this is an optimistic sign for a rapid entry into force of the UP and UPC.

In addition, the ratification process is underway in Germany with the draft legislation for ratification of the UPC agreement scheduled in the parliamentary agenda on 16 February 2017. It remains to be seen whether the United-Kingdom will also ratify the UPC agreement despite the Brexit vote as has been indicated by certain interested parties. Some confidences even indicate that the United-Kingdom might deposit their instruments of ratification by the beginning of March 2017.

This news aligns with the provisional calendar disclosed by the preparatory committee of the UPC following its last meeting in mid-January 2017. Indeed, according to this calendar, the provisional application phase could start in May 2017 and the UPC thus also the Unitary Patent would enter into force in December 2017.

According to this provisional calendar, the sunrise-period offering the possibility to opt out specific European patent applications and European patents from the exclusive competence of the UPC would start in September 2017.

In this respect, we invite patent owners to already review their portfolios in order to determine which of their European patent applications and European patents should be opted out from the exclusive competence of the UPC, so that the corresponding opt-out requests can be filed during the sunrise-period and be applicable upon the entry into force of the UPC.