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Romania Becomes 18th UPC Member State

Client Updates / Jun 10, 2024

Written by: Caleb Gilliam-Scott

Romania has become the 18th Member State to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), depositing its instrument of ratification on 31 May 2024. As such, from the date of accession of 01 September 2024, the jurisdiction of the UPC will be extended to include Romania.

In ratifying the UPC agreement, Romania has also joined the Unitary Patent system, thereby heralding the “second generation” of Unitary Patents with unitary effect in the original 17 Member States (i.e. “first generation”) and in the 18th state Romania. First generation Unitary Patents will not have their territorial coverage extended to include Romania.

Romania joins Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden as Member States having ratified the UPCA.

The other signatory states which have not yet ratified are Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and Slovakia. It had been expected that Ireland would hold a referendum on whether to ratify the UPC agreement this summer, but such a vote has been deferred. There are no strong signals as of yet about the expected timeline for the remaining states to ratify the agreement.

However, the addition of Romania has given an insight into what can be expected from a procedural point of view if and when other states do ratify. The European Patent Office (EPO), as the body responsible for the granting of Unitary Patents, has extended users the opportunity to delay the registration of Unitary Patents until 01 September 2024, so as to benefit from the extended coverage. Requests for unitary effect must still be filed within one month of the publication of the mention of grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin, but an annotation in the request for unitary effect or separate cover letter requesting delay of the registration of unitary effect will cause the EPO to hold off from the actual registration until on or shortly after the date of Romania’s accession.