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The Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the Unitary Patent

Navigating the new European patent system



The introduction of the European patent package - the creation of a single court in which to hear European patent disputes (the Unified Patent Court (UPC)) plus a unitary patent right (UP) across most of the EU - is the culmination of decades of work, but is now in its final stages. The Provisional Application Period has commenced and practical preparations are being completed so that the new court can start in late Spring 2023. A recent announcement on the UPC website has delayed the UPC start date (from 1 April) to 1 June 2023 start of the sunrise period for opting European patents out of the jurisdiction of the UPC (from 1 January 2023) to 1 March 2023. See our IP Notes blog post for further details here.

Once the new system is in place it will bring with it fundamental changes to the way in which patents can be litigated in Europe. This Hub aims to give you the background you need on the practical changes introduced by the UPC and UP system, including the implications for patent litigation and patent filing strategies. Click on the boxes below for more information.    


How can we help?

Our fully integrated, market leading team, is on the ground in France, Germany, Italy and the UK and has decades of experience in running multi-jurisdictional patent litigation in respect of our clients' most valuable products, including experience in the jurisdictions which will inform the UPC's procedure in due course. Once commenced, the new UPC system will have jurisdiction over EPs in all participating EU member, but litigation will also need to continue in non-participating EPC states (including the UK and three EU MSs) as well as in national courts in relation to EPs opted out of the new system. So the execution and management of multi-jurisdictional patent litigation will still be a key element of patent enforcement in Europe, in which our team has unrivalled experience. We will be able to use legal, technical and strategic skills from across our whole European team to give you the best advice on your matters, with the qualifications necessary to handle cases whether they are in the UPC or key national courts. 

For more information and advice on preparing for the new system, please contact Sebastian Moore, or any of the other key contacts listed below. Please see also our quick guide to the UPC and unitary patents, via the boxes below. 


Start date for UPC postponed to 1 June 2023 and sunrise period for opt-out to 1 March 2023

05 December 2022

The UPC website has announced today that the start date for the sunrise period (in which European patents can be opted out of the UPC’s jurisdiction in advance of the UPC starting to accept cases) will be delayed until 1 March 2023 to allow users to prepare themselves for the strong authentication required to access the UPC’s case management system (CMS) and to sign documents.  Previously the sunrise period was due to start on 1 January 2023.  This delay means that that start date for the UPC will also be pushed back by two months, to 1 June 2023 (rather than 1 April). The UPC site says that no further delay is anticipated. This June start date would require Germany to deposit its instrument of ratification of the UPC Agreement in February. Read more.


In the media: HSF on the UPC & UP

The UPC and unitary patents: preparing for the new system – an HSF video podcast for Practical Law

28 November 2022

Concerned about the new patent system planned for European patents starting in 2023? Andrew Wells and Rachel Montagnon have filmed a video podcast for Practical Law on what businesses can do to prepare for the advent of the UPC and unitary patent (published on 28 November 2023).  The discussion covers:

- An overview of the UPC and unitary patent system

- The advantages of the UPC and the potential risks

- Opting out of the UPC

- Considerations for patent co-owners and licensees


Key Contacts