The Preparatory Committee of the UPC has published a revised timetable for the final stages of preparations for the opening of the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The revised timetable indicates that the Sunrise Period during which existing European Patents can be opted out of the jurisdiction of the UPC could start in September 2017 and the UPC could start accepting cases in December 2017 when the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) comes into effect.
In order for the UPCA to come into effect, it remains for the UK and Germany to ratify the UPCA. The UK recently announced its intention to proceed with ratification. Germany was always expected to be the last state to ratify, in order to control the timing of the UPCA coming into effect. Once the UPCA has come into effect, it will be possible for the EPO to grant Unitary Patents.
The Preparatory Committee has stressed that the revised timetable is conditional, and there is no guarantee that the timing will not slip further back again. Patent users should bear in mind that the UPC could be operational by the end of 2017 and so may wish to make preparations to decide which of their granted patents should be opted out of the jurisdiction of the UPC during the Sunrise Period which might start in September 2017.
This article was reprinted with permission from J A Kemp.