With the start of 2016, the implementation of the new Unitary Patent and the related Unified Patent Court (UPC) are getting even closer.
Regarding the Unitary Patent, it was announced on 15 December 2015 that a secondary legal framework has been put into place to enable the implementation of the new Unitary Patent at the European Patent Office (EPO). The Select Committee, which represents EU member states participating in the Unitary Patent, adopted the Rules relating to Unitary Patent Protection, the Rules relating to Fees for Unitary Patent Protection, the Rules relating to the distribution of fees amongst the participating Member States, as well as the Budgetary and Financial Rules.
The EPO president said, “This is a hugely significant occasion for the European patent system. With the adoption of these rules today, the preparations for the unitary patent are complete. We are now legally, technically and operationally ready to deliver the unitary patent. The only remaining step is the opening of the Unified Patent Court and the finalisation of the ratification process at national level. We hope this will happen in 2016 and we are convinced that it will boost innovation in Europe and will be beneficial for the European economy, especially for European SMEs.”
Regarding the UPC, it has been indicated that the period for provisional application of the UPC will last for at least 6 months. This so-called “sunrise” period will enable certain parts of the UPC to come into effect early. Importantly, the sunrise period will allow for early registration of opt-out demands, whereby patentees having non-Unitary European patents will be able to opt out of using the UPC in advance of the UPC coming fully into effect. Opting out in this way will require payment of a small fee for each patent (maybe €80). In addition, the sunrise period will bring forward certain legal and practical arrangements, such as the appointment of judges.
Please contact Jo Pelly or your usual adviser for further information.