During September there were whispers of a possible date on which the Unified Patent Court (UPC) would start full operation, which would also bring the Unitary Patent (UP) system into effect. Only a week into October, those whispers have been followed by a formal announcement of a planned date of 1 April 2023 for the start of full operation of the UPC and the UP system coming into effect. This will be the biggest change to European patent law in many years as we explain on our website here.
The UPC authorities announced the planned date and provided a roadmap for implementing the UPC. With the prospective date of 1 April 2023 for full operation, the UPC authorities confirm their intention for the Sunrise period (which allows opt-out applications to be filed and starts the EPO’s UP transitional provisions) to begin on 1 January 2023 (detail about how the length of the Sunrise period is determined can be found in our UPC & UP FAQs).
This date is not definite, however, and given the amount of delay there has been in the introduction of the UPC and UP, unsurprisingly, there are still reasons these dates may be delayed further. Two such reasons are that the case management system (the software platform through which a large part of UPC operations will run and by which parties will interact with the court) is still being developed; and there is also some recruitment that still needs to be completed.
Additionally, as noted, the UPC authorities have said the planned date to start full operation of the UPC is 1 April 2023 if the Sunrise period starts during January 2023. These dates are consistent with those reported by JUVE Patent. However, Managing IP has reported that delays are already anticipated due to the judicial training schedule set out in the roadmap.
These factors will need to be overcome before the planned start of full UPC operation and entry into force of the UP system can be confirmed. None are insurmountable, and they should not delay the ability for the UPC and UP system to enter into force fully by more than a few months at most, however. So, what this does mean is that a fully operational UPC and UP system are around the corner.
If you have any questions on the matters addressed in this article, or on any other UPC and Unitary Patent matter, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your usual GJE attorney.