The EPO has announced that its transitional measures for Unitary Patents (UP) will start on 1 January 2023.
From that date, applicants who have received a communication under rule 71(3) EC (intention to grant) may file:
- an early requests for unitary effect and/or
- a request for a delay in issuing the decision to grant a European patent.
The measures are applicable until the entry into operation of the UP system and UPC which is expected to be on 1 April 2023.
The two transitional measures are interrelated but separate from a procedural perspective.
1. Early request for unitary effect
Early requests for unitary effect may only be filed for European patent applications in respect of which a communication under Rule 71(3) EPC has been despatched.
If the requirements for the registration of unitary effect as provided for in the Rules relating to Unitary Patent Protection are met, the EPO will register unitary effect once the Unitary Patent system has started and communicate the date of this registration to the requester. Otherwise, it will invite the requester to correct the deficiencies if applicable (already before grant) or reject the request for unitary effect.
The request should be filed using dedicated EPO Form 7000 and thus include the required translation.
2. Request for a delay in issuing the decisions to grant a European patent
This transitional measure allows the applicant to delay grant of a European patent in order to make it eligible for Unitary Patent protection.
A request for delay may be validly filed only for European patent applications in respect of which the applicant has been informed of the text intended for grant by a communication under Rule 71(3) EPC but has not yet approved that text.
A request for delay filed can be filed on the same day as the approval of the text intended for grant. The request for delay must be filed using dedicated EPO form 2025.