EU Regulations 1257/2012 and 1260/2012 adopted in December 2012, together with the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (2013/C 175/01) (UPCA), comprise the patent reform package under which the UPC and UP system has been created and made available to EU member states.
The UPC has jurisdiction and UPs are effective in those nations that have signed and ratified the UPCA. All EU member states except for Croatia, Poland and Spain agreed to participate in the new UP/UPC system and signed the UPCA but not all of those countries have ratified the UPCA.Of the 24 EU member state signatories, 17 had ratified the UPCA at the time the UPC opened its doors on 1 June 2023 such that the UPC has jurisdiction in those nations now that the system has come into effect.
The provisional application phase of the UP/UPC regime started on 19 January 2022 when Austria deposited its instrument of ratification and the Protocol to the UPCA on provisional application entered into force (ratification by 13 countries, including Germany, France and Italy, was needed to enter this phase). Germany only deposited its instrument of ratification on 17 February 2023 as it was decided that it would delay depositing its instrument of ratification with the European Council until such time as the preparatory work for the new system was mostly complete. The Sunrise Period started on the first day of the month after this final ratification step (i.e., on 1 March 2023) and the UPC will became operational 3 months later (i.e., on 1 June 2023).
The seven EU member states that are yet to ratify the UPCA (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Romania and Slovakia) may ratify at any time, but until they do so, the UPC will not have jurisdiction nor will granted UPs have effect in those countries. It is important to note that the geographical coverage of each UP will be limited to those contracting countries that have ratified the UPCA at the time the request for unitary effect (discussed below) was registered. As such, as more countries ratify over time, different UPs may have different geographical scopes.
European Patent Convention (EPC) member states who are not also in the EU (e.g., the UK and Switzerland) are not able to participate in the UP/UPC system. However, they can continue to be covered by national designations of EPs as is currently the case.