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News · 20.10.2021

Updated time schedule for the EU Unified Patent Court and unitary patent

Earlier this year, the Federal Constitutional Court in Germany rejected two complaints on the ratification of the agreement on a unified patent court and a unitary patent. As a result, the path is now cleared for Germany to adopt the agreement together with the other Member States.

The German Federal Constitutional Court issued a press release on the order on its website on 9 July 2021. The Federal Constitutional Court had actually ruled in March 2020 that the approval of the agreement by the Bundestag was void, as the legislative framework had not been adopted with the two-thirds majority required under the German Constitution for the transfer of sovereign powers.

However, although the German ratification is now in place, the agreement still needs one other signatory before the Unified Patent Court can commence its work. Austria is expected to ratify the agreement in December 2021. Alternatively, Lithuania, Malta or Poland may ratify the agreement before the end of the year. Based on this, some patent court project managers expect the Unified Patent Court to commence in autumn 2022, while others expect it to commence in the first quarter of 2023 at the earliest.

Unitary patents will be reviewed and issued by the European Patent Office (EPO) just like the current European patents. However, as opposed to the current EU patents, unitary patents will not need to be validated in every individual country, and legal proceedings will be brought before the Unified Patent Court and not the national courts of law.