In our last post on this topic we reported that Slovenia had ratified the Unified Patents Court Agreement, bringing the whole process slightly closer.

It is now clear that Germany has completed the ratification process, meaning that only one more country needs to ratify in order to start the final preparations moving. Business Europe is reporting that both Austria and Malta are close and expect to be completing ratification by the end of this year.

The timeline to UPC implementation is as below:

After the final ratification, the Provisional Application Period will start, estimated to take between six and ten months during which preparatory steps for the UPC Implementation will take place. This means that the prospects of the Unified Patents Court and the Unitary Patent coming into force before the end of 2022 are getting stronger all the time. The language now being used is “in the second half of 2022”.

The preparatory steps required include:

  • Agreeing the venue for the third court in the Central Division (following London’s departure)
  • Ironing out issues with the case management IT system
  • Appointing judges, administrative staff, and arbitrators/mediators

As the certainty of the UPC/UP is now almost settled, thoughts will turn to practical steps for owners of European patents. We will be commenting on the “opt out” system and some of the strategic issues in play in the forthcoming posts. The opt out system allows European patent owners to remove the European patent out of the UPC system. It is possible to carry this out as early as before the commencement of the UPC, during the Sunrise Period.