The Provisional Application Phase and the UPC’s expected timeline has been published on the website of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), and it concludes: “The timing of the start of operations of the Court depends on the progress of the preparatory work. It is a reasonable assessment that this will happen during the last quarter of 2022 or early 2023.” Regarding judges, candidates are currently being interviewed and the plan is for the appointments to be made before the summer break, followed by a training programme. Other ongoing preparatory work includes IT development, including the Case Management System and a new website, and procurement of a medical and social security plan (tendering documents).
When the Administrative Committee is confident that the Court will be ready to become operational, Germany will deposit its instrument of ratification of the UPC Agreement, which will then come into force on the first day of the fourth month after that deposit whereupon the Court will open and unitary patents may be granted. In the 3-4 month period between Germany’s deposit and the UPC system being operational, opt-outs may be registered (to opt European patents out from the Court’s jurisdiction) and applicants for a European patent may file an early request for unitary effect (i.e. a unitary patent). They may also request that the issue of a decision to grant a European patent is delayed until the start date so a unitary patent is granted on the start date (see Q&A).