As many readers of the blog surely know already, the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPC Agreement) will enter into force on 1 June 2023.
With this in mind, a 3-month Sunrise period started on 1 March 2023. From that date, an opt-out from the jurisdiction of the Court, as laid down in Article 83(3) of the UPC Agreement, can be filed. According to the provision, applicants for and proprietors of a “classic” European patent, as well as holders of a supplementary protection certificate (SPC) issued for a product protected by a “classic” European patent, can opt out their application, patent or SPC from the exclusive competence of the Court. As a result, the UPC will have no jurisdiction concerning any litigation related to this application, patent or SPC. The application to opt out can only be made via the Case Management System of the Court (CMS); the conditions are explained here. It should be noted that the opt-out will only become effective on the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.
Filing a request to become a representative before the UPC, as per Article 48 of the Agreement, is also possible since 1 March 2023. Two categories are eligible to become representative before the UPC: lawyers authorised to practice before a court of a Contracting Member State (Article 48(1) UPCA) and European Patent Attorneys who are entitled to act as professional representatives before the European Patent Office and who have appropriate qualifications as per Article 48(2) UPCA and the European Patent Litigation Certificate Rules.
The first experiences with the live version of the Court’s Case Management System (CMS) have just been reported by the Registrar (a week before, Luxembourg launched a call for applications for administrative support staff at the Registry and Court of Appeal of the Unified Patent Court in Luxembourg, deadline ending soon, in case of interest. Other vacancies are posted here).
Just for the record: 24 EU Member States have signed the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (Spain, Poland and Croatia have not). Initially, the UPCA will be in force in 17 states which have ratified the Agreement (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia have not). The unitary patent is the outcome of enhanced cooperation procedure; it was established via Regulation No 1257/2012 of 17 December 2012. In 2014, Regulation No 542/2014 was adopted amending Regulation No 1215/2012 as regards the rules on jurisdiction to be applied with respect to the Unified Patent Court (see consolidated version of the latter Regulation, whose Article 24(4) will still remain in force after 1 June 2023, albeit with a more limited scope of application).