2023-06-01: Unified Patent Court starts today

Today, June 1st, 2023, marks the official entry into force of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement. As a result, the UPC becomes operational and the unitary effect of European patents can now be requested. The UPC will be responsible for hearing cases related to all European patents with unitary effect.

However, European patents that have been validated conventionally, without unitary effect, may still be subject to an opt-out and thus may or may not fall within the jurisdiction of the UPC.

It’s important to note that the unitary effect applies only to those countries that are members of the UPC agreement. Therefore, non-EU member states that are party to the European Patent Convention, as well as EU member states and European Patent Convention signatories that have not yet ratified the UPC agreement, are excluded from its scope.

In addition, the unitary effect will gradually expand when subsequent states ratify UPC agreement. Extended unitary effect will cover newly granted European patents, but will not be applied retroactively to patents granted earlier. Thus, for a couple of years, the term ‘unitary’ will be unequivocal only when followed by a specific date, such as ‘unitary@2023-06-01’.