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UPC opening delayed until 1 June 2023

5 December 2022

The planned start date for the Unified Patent Court (“UPC”) has been pushed back by two months to the new date of 1 June 2023. The delay, announced today (5 December 2022), has been given after some users requested more time to get the authentication requirements in place for the new Case Management System (CMS).  The announcement means that the sunrise period is set to begin on 1 March 2023. All other preparations are said to be on time and unaffected.

After the start date, users of the UPC will be able to lodge cases with the new court system and the first Unitary Patents will be granted. Whilst the UPC’s committee has given some estimated timings in the past, they have not previously given such a precise date, nor laid out timescales in such detail.

The UPC will allow companies and inventors to enforce their patents in 17 EU countries in a single court action. The court coming into operation will also complete the so called “Unitary Patent Package” which will allow for a single Unitary EU Patent, covering the 17 member states of the UPC, simplifying the patent grant process for much of Europe.

The EPO’s transitional measures are still proceeding as of 1 January 2023, to encourage early uptake of the Unitary Patent.

German ratification of the UPC Agreement is now planned to occur in February 2023. If German ratification does occur in February, as planned, then the 1 June start date will then become legally certain and in addition will mean that, as of 1 March 2023, it will become possible to “opt-out” from the jurisdiction of the UPC.  For more information regarding the “opt-out” provisions, please look at our article here, discussing the UPC in general and the opt-out provisions.