On 18 January 2022, the ratification of the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application (PPA) by the Austrian Parliament was notified to the Council of the European Union. This crucial step was taken following ratification of the PPA by the Austrian Parliament on 2 December 2021.
The UPC consequently enters the Provisional Application Phase (PAP).The PAP means that the organization as such is officially established and the UPC's formal governing bodies start to operate.
The PAP also means that key tasks can now be carried out, including the judicial interviews for judges in this new system and confirmation of appointments. The IT system which will be at the heart of the operation of the UPC will also need to be finalized. More broadly, all technical and infrastructural preparations will now need to take place so that the new court can start operations together with the Unitary Patent system.
In this respect, once the PAP is completed (there is no official deadline for this), the UPC will see the start of the sunrise-period offering the possibility to opt-out European patents for European patent holders not willing to initially litigate in the UPC system.
Given these latest developments, The Unified Patent Court could reasonably be operational within a year. As EPO President António Campinos said at the end of 2021:
"In a few months from now it will be possible for innovating businesses, scientists and inventors to effectively protect their new technologies with a cost-attractive patent uniformly covering the territory of all participating EU member states".
As a reminder, the UPC is an international court with jurisdiction for infringement and revocation actions concerning patents granted by the EPO. This specialised court aims at making the Europe-wide enforcement of patents easier, offering greater legal certainty and reducing litigation costs.
We will keep a close eye on UPC developments as the PAP proceeds towards completion. Please get in touch with the contacts listed in this publication should you require guidance relating to this topic.
Authored by Stanislas Roux-Vaillard