The Unified Patent Court (UPC) Preparatory Team has announced a new roadmap which shows that they expect the UPC to open its doors to litigants on 1 April 2023. If the UPC adheres to that timing, the European Patent Office will also start granting Unitary Patents (UPs) from 1 April 2023, the day on which the UPC Agreement will come into force. A UP will be a single patent granted by the European Patent Office having effect in participating UPC member countries and which can only be litigated at the UPC. From 1 April 2023, the UPC will also have jurisdiction over national validations of granted European patents, unless opted out.
According to the roadmap, a sunrise period during which national validations of European Patents can be opted out of the jurisdiction of the UPC will open on 1 January 2023. Opting a nationally validated European Patent out of the jurisdiction of the UPC will protect it from a central validity attack filed at the UPC. We will be writing to our clients seeking instructions for opting out nationally validated European Patents. In the meantime, patentees are recommended to check that they have up-to-date information regarding ownership of their nationally validated European patents.
According to the roadmap, Germany will deposit its instrument of ratification of the UPC Agreement in December 2022. From that day on, it will be possible to request that the EPO delays grant of a European Patent Application until after the coming into force of the UPC Agreement, so that a Unitary Patent can be requested. Applicants may wish to consider this option for cases approaching grant at the EPO.