New EPO Court System Effective 1 June 2023

The Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC), a new EPO patent and patent enforcement system, respectively, will come into effect on June 1, 2023. This will affect anyone holding or applying for patent(s) granted by the European Patent Office (EPO):

The Unified Patent Court will be a court with sole jurisdiction over Unitary Patents. The new Unitary Patent will be a single patent covering all participating countries based on a granted EP patent.

March 1, 2023 begins a “Sunrise Period” where holders of EP Patents can “opt out” of UPC jurisdiction. Opting out requires filing a request for each European patent to be opted out.

Starting June 1, 2023, a 7 year “transition period” will begin where EP patent holders can still “opt out” but they must do so before a UPC action is started, e.g., before a challenge is filed against that patent in the UPC. This is similar for EP patent applications where Applicants may “opt out” prior to issuance of the EP patent or later during the transition period. Once the transition period has ended (around 2030), the UPC will be the sole enforcement system for all EP patents in participating countries.

Two notes: (1) Procedures for filing, prosecuting, and opposing EP patent applications are not expected to change; and (2) the United Kingdom is not a part of the UPC system.

If you hold any EP patents you must decide whether to “opt out” or not. The deadline to “opt out” during the Sunrise Period is June 1, 2023. After the UPC begins, you may be subject to UPC jurisdiction, but still may “opt out” until about 2030 (but will be subject to UPC jurisdiction if an action is brought first).

If you have questions about the new Unitary Patent or the Unified Patent Court, or if you would like to discuss whether to opt out your validated European patents, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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