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Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court

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EU Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent

The European Union package includes two regulations that would create a European Patent with unitary effect (“Unitary Patent” or “UP”) and a Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement (UPCA—a treaty) that would create a Unified Patent Court. The regulations specify that they would be effective on the same date as the UPCA on the first day of the fourth month after minimum ratification of the UPCA by 13 EU states including France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

A Protocol on the provisional application of the UPC Agreement that would permit some parts of the Agreement to be appliedimmediately after the last two required states, Germany and the UK, give notice that their Parliaments have approved ratification of the Agreement.

The Protocol will permit organizational activities before the UPCA enters into full force and the court opens, including the recruitment of judges, testing of IT systems and early registration of opt-out demands.

In a UK Referendum on June 23, 2016, 51.9% favored leaving the EU (“Brexit”). As a result, progress toward implementation of the UPC and UP slowed, because the UK would necessarily play a key role in the UPC and its participation was in doubt. On November 28, 2016, however, the UK government announced its intent to promptly ratify the UPC Agreement, in spite of its Brexit plans. UPC preparations resumed and on January 16, 2017, the UPC Preparatory Committee announced its target to begin activities of the Court in May 2017, under the Protocol for provisional application of the UPCA, and for the Court to become fully operational in December 2017.   See our Chronology page and our FAQs 41-44.

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Updated January 20, 2017.


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