The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is postponing the start of the preliminary period known as the “sunrise period”, during which exclusion from the jurisdiction of the UPC can be declared for European patents even before its actual start (“opt-out”), by two months to March 1, 2023. Accordingly, the envisaged start of the UPC’s activities will also be postponed by two months to June 1, 2023.

The UPC explains that the additional time is to allow future users to prepare for the strong authentication, which will be required – already in the “sunrise period” – to access the Case Management System (CMS) and to sign documents. The CMS functionality has reportedly already been tested positively, but users will be given more time to find a trusted provider to access the CMS and provide appropriate authentication tools.

Unaffected by the postponement, the transitional measures provided for obtaining a patent with unitary effect will be available as planned from January 1, 2023, according to an announcement of the European Patent Office. For European patent applications for which an intention to grant has been declared according to a communication under R. 71(3) EPC, on the one hand, an early request for unitary effect may then be filed in order to effect the registration of unitary effect for the patent immediately at the start of the unitary patent system. On the other hand, a deferment of the decision to grant a European patent can be requested in order to make unitary patent protection available for a European patent that might otherwise have been granted before the start of the new unitary patent system an thus too early.