Date: 25 January 2022
The Unitary Patent is scheduled to start in October or November 2022 or early 2023 at the latest, and 17 of the original 25 EU member states that requested “enhanced co-operation” have so far ratified the Agreements. Only these 17 and any others who ratify promptly will participate from the outset.
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Romania, and Slovakia are enhanced co-operation signatory states, but have not (yet) fully ratified the UPC Agreement. As matters stand, they will not be covered by a unitary patent at commencement of the system. However, we are not aware of any particular objections to the system, and these states could ratify the agreement and join the system before or after commencement.
Croatia (HR) became a member of the EU on 1 July 2013, which was after most states had signed up to the UPC. We are not aware of any objections to the UPC, and so Croatia may become a member state in due course.
Spain and Poland have indicated that they will not join the UPC. It will remain the case that an EP patent may be validated in Spain and Poland to gain protection in the respective states.
The effect is that there are now four concentric circles within the European patent system: