The German government deposited its instrument of ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA) with the Council of the European Union. The step marks the successful completion of the necessary ratification procedures by the participating EU member states for the Unitary Patent Package to become effective for currently 17 states. The new system is now ready to enter into operation on 1 June 2023. More countries are expected to join in the future.
Welcoming the news, EPO President António Campinos said, "The deposit by Germany opens the door for a new era of IP protection in Europe. Under the Unitary Patent system, European businesses will be able to benefit from broader and more effective patent protection at lower costs, which is particularly important for smaller entities. The start of the long-expected system is the result of close co-operation and constructive work of all partners and stakeholders of the European patent system. It will be a boon for the European economy as it establishes a uniform technology market facilitating transactions across a big economic region. While later this year we are going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our founding treaty, the European Patent Convention, this huge step represents a historic moment for innovators and the protection of inventions in Europe."
European patent applicants have already shown strong interest. Since the EPO launched its transitional measures on 1 January to encourage an early uptake of the new system, more than 2 200 requests for unitary effect and/or for delay of grant have been filed.
The Unitary Patent system will mark the single most important reform in the history of the European patent system since its creation in 1973.The new system will enable uniform patent protection across all participating EU members states by way of a single patent application filed with the EPO and provide a centralised platform for Europe-wide patent litigation before the Unified Patent Court. The 25 EU member states participating in enhanced cooperation for the Unitary Patent package are estimated to have a combined GDP of more than 14 trillion euros (corresponding to 80% of the entire EU's GDP) and incorporate a population of nearly 400 million people - more than the US, Canada and Australia combined.