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).

Preparations for the UP and UPC by the relevant authorities are proceeding based on a timetable that the new system will come into force in December 2017. According to this timetable, there would be a “sunrise” period beginning in September 2017 for (optionally) opting-out EP patents/applications from the jurisdiction of the UPC in advance.

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.

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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