Following Friday’s news, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) website has published confirmation under Germany ratifies the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court – Confirmed start of operations of the Court on 1 June 2023 with the Council of the EU also publishing Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court – state of play – Information from the Presidency. As the documents explain, Germany’s deposit on Friday of its instrument of ratification of the UPC Agreement triggers (under art. 89(1)) the coming into force of the Agreement on 1 June 2023, which triggers the application of the Unitary Patent Regulations on that same date (EU 1257/2012 on creation of unitary patent protection and EU 1260/2012 on translation arrangements). This means that on 1 June the Court will now open and the EPO can grant unitary patents.
Klaus Grabinski, President of the UPC Court of Appeal, commented: “The European Patent System will be complemented significantly. It will soon be possible to sue for infringement of a European patent in several Member States before only one court instead of having to litigate before several national courts in parallel. This will reduce costs and avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgements. And it will be a truly European Court with legally and technically qualified judges from different Member States on the panel and lawyers from different Member States and European Patent Attorneys with an extra qualification representing the cases.”
The Council of the EU’s publication includes a report by Jérôme Debrulle, Chair of the EPO Administrative Council’s Select Committee and Johannes Karcher, Chair of the UPC Administrative Committee. The report concludes that “the Unitary Patent package” (i.e. both the UPC and unitary patent protection) “is on the verge of becoming a reality. Its entry into operation has taken much longer than initially envisaged. But the time has not been wasted. Utmost care has been taken to render the system as user friendly, efficient and cost effective as possible and to make it most attractive for companies. When on 1 June this year the first Unitary Patents will be registered by the EPO this will be a great day for the European Union which finally will have brought to fruition one of its longest outstanding reforms.”
Both publications conclude with a comment about the possibility of more EU member states joining the system: “It is expected for more Member States to join the system, once it is up and running”, and “If it becomes, as is expected, a full success this may also convince those EU Member States, which currently do not participate in the new system to join it as rapidly as possible to the benefit of their companies and the entire European Single Market.” Currently 17 member states are participating (having ratified the UPC Agreement): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. A further seven member states have signed the UPC Agreement but not yet completed their ratification procedures: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Romania and Slovakia.