The unitary patent system and Unified Patent Court (UPC) went live on 1 June 2023. Here’s what you need to know about this new European patent with unitary effect and European patent court system (UPC).
The unitary patent system was officially launched at 9am CEST on 1 June 2023, providing organizations with the ability to file European patents with unitary effect (unitary patents) at the European Patent Office (EPO), and bring disputes over eligible European patent rights before the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The launch also brings to an end the ‘Sunrise period’ that provided rights holders with the opportunity to opt out from the new system before the UPC came into effect. Many organizations made the most of this opportunity, as we covered in our recent article UPC opt-out statistics: Emerging trends from the first month of operation, with a further acceleration in opt-out registrations recorded in the weeks before the UPC launch.
Unitary Patent System: A New Europe-wide Patent Court
Only European patent titles proactively opted out are excluded from the UPC’s jurisdiction, which covers all EU member states that have ratified the UPC Agreement (UPCA). At present that comprises 17 EU member states, including France, Germany and Italy, with more expected to follow. Notable exceptions to the new unitary patent system include Spain and Poland (which are not signatories to the agreement) and Switzerland and the UK (which are not EU member states).
→ It’s not too late to opt-out
It is still possible for organizations that missed the window of the three-month Sunrise period to lodge opt-outs for their patents at the UPC Registry. From 1 June and for a planned transitional period of seven years (which may be extended up to 14 years), EP applications, EP patents without unitary effect and corresponding SPCs can all be opted out, but not EP patents with unitary effect (unitary patents), so long as they are not the subject of dispute before those courts.
Unitary Patent System: A New European Patent Right
The new unitary patent system does not change how patent applications are currently filed and prosecuted in Europe. However, once a patent reaches the grant stage, the proprietor can now select the unitary patent protection route instead of validating nationally in those 17 countries.
Unitary Patent System Services and Resources
To support patent applicants and their legal advisors, Questel and its independent IP law firm partners offer a wide range of dedicated unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) opt-out support services. Discover our UPC and opt-out services
You can also find out more about the UPC, unitary patent and opt-out process in our resources hub:
- Should you opt-out from the jurisdiction of the UPC? Download our eBook Opting out from the UPC to discover the pros and cons.
- Unclear about how the opt-out process works? Read our in-depth article on the Unified Patent Court.
- Unsure which European patent filing route is best for you? Hear the advice of independent IP law firm experts in our video The New European Patenting Landscape – Today’s best practices for obtaining European patent.
Take your next step by scheduling a call with one of our Subject Matter Experts to discuss how we can support you with our specialist UP, UPC, and EP services.