At the end of June 2023, over 535,000 European patents and patent applications have been opted-out from the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The rate of opt-outs reached its peak during the final weeks of the preliminary "Sunrise Period," with over 36,000 patents and applications opted-out on May 30, 2023, the day before the UPC's CMS platform update.
- Stabilization of opt-out requests: since the new UP/UPC system came into effect on June 1, 2023, the number of opt-outs has stabilized at around 2,700 applications and 7,600 patents per week. This compares with about 3,700 applications filed per week at the EPO and around 1,500 patents granted per week by the EPO.
- Opt-out trends: major technology, media, and telecom companies are adopting an all-inclusive approach, with Huawei, Honeywell, Boeing, Microsoft, and Samsung leading in opt-out requests.
- Geographical considerations: when looking at the country of origin of the patent holder/applicant, the 39 member states of the European Patent Office (EPO) still account for over 45% of all opt-outs. However, companies based in the United States and Germany are prominently represented in opt-out requests compared to their proportion of patent filings as derived from the EPO official statistics for 2022. Asian countries like China and South Korea show greater openness towards the new UPC system.
Source: Wolters Kluwer, Country of origin of first-named owner of opted-out patent or application.
- Technology fields: opt-out requests primarily relate to preparations for medical purposes (A61K), followed by the computing and communications sectors.
Source: Wolters Kluwer, Top International Patent Classifications of opted-out patents and applications.
- Industry impact: opt-out requests in the healthcare and life sciences sector (medical devices) represent 11.1% of applications from the last 20 years, while battery-related patents account for 10.2%.
Implications and Final Considerations
These opt-out trends currently highlight a cautious approach among patent holders, especially major technology companies in the medical, media, and telecommunications sectors, seeking to keep their patent portfolios away from the new UP/UPC system.
Additionally, these preliminary figures reveal differentiated opt-out rates based on geographical areas and technology sectors, emphasizing the importance of reviewing and adjusting European patent portfolios.
Stay updated on the latest news regarding the new UP/UPC system and European patent procedures to make informed decisions about your company's intellectual property protection strategies. We are at your disposal to discuss how to plan and manage patent portfolios in view of the new opportunities arising from this new system, and provide the following resources: