Last week it was announced that the planned start of the Unitary Patent System will be postponed to June 1, 2023. Accordingly, the start of the Sunrise Period is scheduled for March 1, 2023 (we reported: https://www.maiwald.eu/en/maiwald-blog/upc-breaking-news-the-sunrise-period-will-not-start-until-march-1-2023/)
In order to facilitate the transition to the Unitary Patent System, the European Patent Office, as the authority that will grant European patents with unitary effect (“unitary patents”), had already defined two transitional measures some time ago, namely:
- the early request for unitary effect and
- the request for delay in issuing the decision to grant a European Patent (“request for delay”).
These two measures will continue to be available as of January 1, 2023! Thus, they are not affected by the postponement of the planned start of the Unitary Patent System and the Sunrise Period (cf. https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/official-journal/2022/11/a104.html and https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/official-journal/2022/11/a105.html ).
This is good news for patent applicants who want to work towards a unitary patent because an early request for unitary effect and/or a request for delay is available for all those patent applications for which a communication under Rule 71(3) EPC has been issued that can be answered in a timely manner on January 1, 2023 or later (simplified).
In summary, the following preparatory measures for the Unitary Patent System are available to patent applicants and patentees:
- Early request for unitary effect as of January 1, 2023,
- Request for delay from January 1, 2023,
- Registration of an opt out from March 1, 2023 (start of the Sunrise Period).