Summary of key points

  • The Unitary Patent (UP) will be a European patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) under the provisions of the European Patent Convention (EPC), and will have unitary effect across all of the participating states of the UP system. 
  • A new Unified Patent Court (UPC) will be established to hear both UP and traditional non-unitary European Patent (EP) cases. This court will be able to give judgements with binding effect throughout all participating states of the UP system.
  • The start date for entry into force of the UP/UPC system will be set when sufficient states have ratified the relevant agreements (see ratification progress here
  • There will be a three-month “sunrise period” before entry into force, for optionally opting-out EP patents/applications from the jurisdiction of the UPC.
  • During a transitional period, holders of non-unitary European Patents (EPs) and applications will be able to opt these out from the jurisdiction of the UPC. There will be no official fee for opting-out, and it will be possible to opt-out multiple patents at once.
  • The renewal fees payable for a UP have been decided and correspond to the current costs for renewal in the four most-popular European states for patent validations (the “True Top 4”).
  • Eventually, machine translation should provide all translations of UPs that may be required. During a transitional period for translations, a full translation of the specification into one other language will need to be filed when requesting a UP.
  • Various advantages and risks of the new system mean that, in many cases, whether or not to use the new UP system will require careful consideration.
Haseltine Lake Kempner can work with you to consider the impact of the new UP system on your competitive IP strategy as the new UP system approaches.

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