The EPO announced yesterday that its transitional measures, which assist an applicant for a European patent to obtain a unitary patent on the day the Unified Patent Court (UPC) opens (“start date”), are due to start on 1 January 2023. This date reflects the UPC’s implementation roadmap which presently anticipates that the UPC will open on 1 April 2023 and the “sunrise period” (during which European patents may be opted out of the UPC’s jurisdiction before the start date) will start on 1 January. The EPO’s transitional measures are the following:
- The applicant for a European patent coming to grant shortly before the start date may request that the issue of a decision to grant a European patent is delayed until the start date so they do not miss the opportunity to obtain a unitary patent. They will then have one month from the start date to request unitary effect.
- The applicant for a European patent may file an early request for unitary effect, so a unitary patent will be granted immediately on the start date. This request may only be made after the applicant has received a “Rule 71(3) EPC-communication” (in which the EPO informs the applicant of the text in which it intends to grant the patent), and the applicant may also need to delay the grant (as above).