Unitary Patent

The Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) will represent a major change in how patent protection can be obtained and enforced in Europe. The ratification process is underway, and the new UP system will come into force when 13 EU countries have ratified the necessary instruments (including the UK, Germany and France).

The UP system will exist in addition to the current European Patent (EP) system. Under the existing EP system, a granted EP patent is a bundle of national patents that can be separately enforced in up to 40 states (i.e. they are non-unitary). In contrast, each new UP will be effective and enforceable as a single patent right across all EU states that participate in the UP system. The UPC will be a new court for litigating both UPs and non-unitary EPs that fall within its jurisdiction.

The UPC Preparatory Committee recently announced a postponement to the entry into force of the system, which was previously targeted for December 2017. A new timetable is expected to be announced shortly, but will ultimately depend on the progress of individual states ratifying the agreements. Before entry into force of the new system, there will be a three-month “sunrise” period for (optionally) opting-out EP patents/applications from the jurisdiction of the UPC in advance.

This section of our website provides key information on the new UP system and outlines some of the practical implications for users of the European patent system.

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