Boult Wade Tennant
UPC » Reheating The UPC

The UPC Preparatory Committee met on 27 October 2021, and it seems that preparations for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) are warming up again. Those with long memories will recall that, for many EU contracting states, the UPC will provide a single court for litigation of European patents, rather than having to rely on separate national litigation actions.

Only one more country is required to ratify the PAP-Protocol of the UPC, meaning that the provisional application phase (PAP) of the UPC might be expected to start in late 2021 or early 2022. This provisional application phase is intended to enable the UPC to become ready for operation. Key action points will be finalising the UPC Case Management System, and appointing judges and other staff.

The PAP has no set duration – it will come to an end when the UPC comes into force, i.e. on the 1st day of the fourth month after Germany ratifies the UPC Agreement. The PAP is expected to last 6-10 months. However, personally, I would not be surprised if this PAP timescale were to be slightly extended as there has been a significant lull in activities in recent years. Brexit has also introduced some extra challenges. For example, where will the London section of the Central Division of the UPC be moved to, and will this require an amendment of the UPC Agreement?

The last 3 months of the PAP will form the “sunrise period” during which it will be possible to opt out classical European patents from the jurisdiction of the UPC. Based on current information, we might expect the sunrise period to start towards the end of 2022. However, past experience has made it clear that it is very difficult to estimate UPC timescales with any certainty.

At Boult, we are keeping a close eye on UPC developments, and will keep our clients updated.

On a general note, delegations confirmed their continuous support for the Unitary Patent System before expressing their eagerness for the start of the PAP, currently expected for late 2021 or early 2022.

Relevant sectors
Consumer goods and retail
Food and beverage
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Trade marks
  • Mechanical products
  • Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Financial services
  • Cosmetics and perfumery
  • Consumer goods
  • Agrochemicals
  • Catalysts
  • Dispersiones y coloides
  • Lubricants
  • Polymers and plastics
  • Advanced materials
  • Composite materials
  • Metallurgy and alloys
  • Nanotechnology
Industrial manufacturing and processing
  • Packaging
  • Polymers and plastics
  • Printing tech
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Coatings
  • Construction
Electronics and electrical devices
  • Travel and leisure
  • Computer and IT architecture and system design
  • Medical devices
  • Optics
  • Robotics
  • Scientific instruments
  • Semiconductor devices
  • Wearable tech and human interfaces
Communications and networks 
  • Oceanography, marine
  • Cloud computing
  • Internet of things (IOT)
  • Wired and wireless networks
Energy and green technologies
  • Water, oil and gas, nuclear, fusion, fission
  • Clean air
  • Fuel cells and battery technology
  • Renewables and recycling
  • Biofuels
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Engines
  • Commercial aviation
  • Defence and security
  • Space and satellites
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Diagnostics
  • Generic market entry
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Methods of production and synthesis
  • Personalised medicine/disease biomarkers
  • Pharmaceutical formulations
  • Polymorphs
  • Small molecule pharmaceuticals
  • Supplementary protection certificates (SPCs)
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Women’s health products
  • Vaccinology (e.g. viral vectors; mRNA vaccines)
  • Therapeutic antibodies
  • Synthetic biology
  • Stem cell therapies
  • Recombinant protein production and purification
  • Personalised medicine/disease biomarkers
  • Nucleic acid synthesis
  • Bioinformatics
  • Immuno-oncology (e.g. checkpoint inhibitors; modified T cells)
  • GM crops
  • Genomic and molecular tools and methods
  • Gene editing (e.g. CRISPR)
  • Drug delivery
  • Biosimilars
  • Antibody manufacture and formulation
  • Antibody engineering
Medical devices and diagnostics 
  • Immuno-oncology
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Devices
  • Diagnostic instruments
  • Digital health
  • Drug delivery
  • In vitro diagnostics
  • Medtech
Computing and software 
  • Digital assistants, virtual assistants and software agents
  • Multimedia, audio/video processing and animation
  • Software applications and systems, mobile applications, user interfaces
  • Data and software security, cryptography and digital rights management (DRM)
  • Data management and storage, databases and data compression
  • Metaverse, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Search engines
  • Robotic process automation
  • Quantum computing
  • Natural language processing
  • Bioinformatics
  • Blockchain and distributed ledgers
  • Communications and networks
  • Computer games
  • Fintech and adtech
  • Machine vision
  • Motor capture
  • Signal processing
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning