The Provisional Application Phase (PAP) of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has finally started! 

Austria deposited their ratification of the PAP-Protocol on 18 January 2022, taking the number of ratifications to thirteen, as required for entry into force of this Protocol. This is the first of two steps required for the UPC to become operational. The second is that Germany must ratify the UPC Agreement. 

The Provisional Application Phase provides for a period of preparatory work, including the recruitment of judges and administrative staff. This period will also allow for further work on the software behind the UPC Case Management System. Currently, this system is available in a Beta version which appears to be far from ready for use.

The Provisional Application Phase has no set duration, but the UPC Preparatory Committee have indicated that it will last at least 8 months. Once everyone is confident that the UPC is functional, Germany will be asked to ratify the UPC Agreement. This ratification will decide the actual start date of the UPC, which will be on the 1st day of the fourth month after Germany ratifies. Therefore, we can now expect the UPC to open its doors in late 2022, or early 2023, depending on how quickly the preparatory work can be completed.